In the past there have been far more than a hundred elephant species - all of them extinct now, except for three species living until today:
Lives in Asia.
Ears: Small, India-shaped
Head: With two domes on top
Lower lip: Pointed, long
Tusks: Only on males
Trunk: Only one "finger" for grasping
Skin: rather smooth
Height: Bulls max. 3 m
Number of individuals living today:
Approx. 40,000 Asian Elephants living in the wild, plus approx. 15,000 in captivity.
This species is divided into 4 subspecies:
- Asian Elephant (sometimes referred to as the "Indian Elephant") (Elephas Maximus Indicus): Living all over Asia.
- Sri Lankan Elephant (Elephas Maximus Maximus): Living on the island Sri Lanka only. Largest of the Asian elephants. Males often do not grow tusks.
- Sumatran Elephant (Elephas Maximus Sumatranus): Living on the islands of Sumatra and Borneo only. Second smallest of the Asian elephants.
- Borneo Elephant (Elephas Maximus Borneensis): Living on the island of Borneo only. Smallest of the subspecies. Sometimes referred to as a pygmy elephant.
Lives in Africa.
Ears: Very big, Africa-shaped
Spine: Curved downwards
Lower Lip: Rounded, short
Tusks: On males and females. Mostly curved
straight forward and upwards
Trunk: 2 "fingers" for grasping
Females have their first calf in the average age
Every 3 - 4 years they have another baby.
Biggest elephant species
Height: Bulls up to 3,50 to 4 m
Number of individuals living today: Approx. 400,000
DESERT ELEPHANTS existing in Mali and Namibia are not a separate species but are bush elephants especially adapted to life in the desert.
Lives in Africa: Only in the central-african forests.
Tusks: Mostly curved downwards to the ground
Females get their first calf in the average age of 23. Every 5 - 6 years they have another baby.
Looks rather similar to the bush elephant, but is smaller.
Height: Up to 2,60 m
Number of individuals living today: Estimations between 45,000 and 80,000
Possibly there is a 4th elephant species: The so-called Dwarf Elephant (Loxodonta Pumilio), which also lives in Africa. But as this elephant could be observed on rare occasions only, it is unsure if it is only a particularly small subspecies of the forest elephant.
This website mainly deals with the elephants of Africa (bush elephants and forest elephants).