Get ready for the lowdown on these gentle giants, with our ten facts about elephants…

1)  Elephants are the world’s largest land animal! Male African elephants can reach 3m tall and weigh between 4,000 7,500kg. Asian elephants are slightly smaller, reaching 2.7m tall and weighing 3,0006,000kg. They are known for their large ears, tusks made of ivory and their trunks – which are actually a fusion of their nose and upper lip.

2) There are actually three different species of elephant – the African Savannah elephant, the African Forest elephant and the Asian elephant.

3) There is an easy way to tell the African elephants from their Asian cousins – their ears! African elephants have large ears, shaped like the continent of Africa! Asian elephants’ ears are smaller and shaped like India. Cool, huh?

Nat Geo Wild Ultimate Animal Compilations

4) You can also tell a lot about an elephant by looking at their tusks! Elephants tusks never stop growing, so enormous tusks can be a sign of an older Both male and female African elephants grow tusks, but only male Asian elephants grow them. A tusk-less adult elephant is likely to be a female Asian elephant.

5) African Forest elephants were thought to be a subspecies of the African elephant, but recent research has discovered that they are actually a separate species. Forest elephants – which are found in the equatorial forests of central and west Africa –have straighter tusks and more rounded ears than Savannah elephants.

6) These animals are a hungry bunch, gang! Everyday they spend between 12 to 18 hours eating grass, plants and fruit! They use their long trunks to smell their food and lift it into their mouth.

IFAW elephant competition

7) Elephants literally change the land around them! As well as digging waterholes and creating footpaths, each elephant makes about one tonne of poo a week – dispersing more tree seedsthan any other animal and enriching the soil. Who knew poop could be so important?!

8) Some elephants can be found underground! In Mount Elgon National Parkin Kenya, a group of elephants use their tusks to mine for salt in underground caves! They feel their way around using their trunks and eat the salts by breaking them off with their tusks.

9) Elephants can get sunburned, so they use mud and sand as sunblock. Elephants will often throw mud over themselves after a river or swamp bath, as a layer of protection for their skin.

IFAW elephant competition

10) Numbers of Asian elephants (which are categorized as Endangered) are far fewer than African elephants (listed as Vulnerable – at risk of becoming Endangered). The Asian elephant faces a bigger threat from the tourist industry then it does the ivory trade.

Click here to learn more about threats to the Asian elephant and what is being done to help.

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