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Elephants

A Brief Overview of the Species

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The Basics

Elephants are the world’s largest living land mammals and herbivores. One of the elephants’ earliest ancestors included the Woolly Mammoth, which thrived during the Ice Age.

Elephants are found in Africa and throughout Asia (from India to Thailand to Indonesia). However, there is not one single species of elephant located across several continents. Where elephants live actually help to differentiate the species. There are three species of elephants, they include: the African Bush Elephant, African Forest Elephant, and Asian Elephant. Each species has different physical characteristics, adapted for their different environments.




Below are tabs that contain maps showing the distribution of the elephant species:

  • Africa
  • Asia

Distribution of African Elephants.

African Elephant species include: African Bush Elephant and
African Forest Elephant

Distribution of Asian Elephants.

Physical Features

Some of the most defining features of the elephant, like their incredibly flexible trunks, large fan-like ears, and ivory tusks, help elephants survive in their natural habitat.

For the elephant, the trunk acts as both hand and nose. Two physical features bundled in one package! The trunk helps elephants grasp onto food, suck up water, and communicate to other elephants.

The ears act as cooling systems for the elephants because they cannot sweat. The elephants flap their ears to cool themselves off, and ears act similar to fans in this process. Furthermore, elephants raise their ears to appear larger when defending themselves.

The ivory tusks grow out of the elephant’s mouth and are, in fact, large teeth! The tusks act as shovels, and work in unison with their trunks, when searching for and attaining water and food sources.