The African Bush Elephant (Loxodonta africana) is the larger of the two species of African elephants, the smaller being the African Forest Elephant. The African Bush Elephant is also known as the Bush Elephant or Savanna Elephant.
The African Bush Elephant is the largest living terrestrial animal, at 6 to 7.3 metres in length and 3 to 3.5 metres in height at the shoulder. It weighs between 6,000 to 9,000 kg.
The largest elephant on record was shot in Angola in 1965. It was a bull weighing 12,274 kg and standing 4.2 metres high. Today, its body is now mounted in the rotunda of the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C.
The Bush Elephant normally moves at a rate of 6 km/h, but it can reach a top speed of 40 km/h when scared or upset.
This animal is characterized by its large head; two large ears that cover its shoulders and radiate excess heat; a large and muscular trunk; two prominent tusks, which are well-developed in both sexes, although more commonly in males; a short neck; a large, barrel-like body; four long and heavy legs; and a relatively short tail.
The African Bush Elephant is protected by a heavy but flexible layer of gray-brown skin, dotted with mostly undeveloped patches of hair and long, black hair at the tip of its tail.
Its back feet have three toes that form a hoof, however, the number of toes on the front feet vary between four and five.
African Bush Elephants are herbivorous. Their diet varies according to their habitat; elephants living in forests, partial deserts, and grasslands all eat different proportions of herbs and tree or shrubbery leaves.
Elephants inhabiting the shores of Lake Kariba have been recorded eating underwater plant life. In order to break down the plants they consume, the African Bush Elephant has four large molars, two in each mandible of the jaw.
Each of these molars is 10 cm wide and 30 cm long. Over time, these molars are worn away and new ones are grown to replace them as the elephant ages.
Elephants also drink great quantities of water, over 190 liters per day!
The African Bush Elephant is an intelligent animal; experiments done on their reasoning and learning abilities show that they are the smart mostly due to their large brain.
Humans are the elephant’s major predator. Elephants are hunted for meat, skin, bones, and tusks.
Luckily in 1989, hunting of the African Bush Elephant for ivory trade was forbidden, after the elephant population fell from several million at the beginning of the 20th century to fewer than 700,000. However, trophy hunting continues today.