Here are some facts about the African bush elephant!

What you need to know about the African bush elephant

The African bush elephant, also known as the African savanna elephant, is one of the three types of elephants in the world. It got its name from where it lives - grassy plains and bushlands. 

African bush elephants typically live in the eastern and southern parts of Africa. The places with the largest populations of African bush elephants include Botswana, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Namibia, Mozambique and South Africa. 

African bush elephant vs. African forest elephant

As stated above, African bush elephants are one of the three types of elephants. The second type of African elephant is the African forest elephant. Although both of them look somewhat similar at first glance, these elephants are different. 

A population geneticist at Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts, conducted a study and found an ancient split between the two elephants making them two different species. As for morphological differences, the African savannah elephants are larger than the African forest elephants. They also have different ear and tusk shapes. 


African bush elephants are the largest land mammal. The average adult African bush elephant can grow up to 24 feet in length and 13 feet in height. As for weight, they can weigh as much as 11 tons. The female African bush elephants are slightly smaller in size than the males. 

These elephants are very distinguishable by their ears. The ear shape resembles the shape of the continent of Africa and can grow to six feet long and four feet wide. Another distinctive feature is its tusks. African bush elephants have more curved tusks than African forest elephants. 

Social life

African bush elephants are nomadic animals - meaning that they continuously move for food and water. These animals travel in herds of around 10 to 1,000 elephants. Traveling in such large numbers helps keep them safe from predators.

Family is vital for elephants. From birth, elephants live in family herds and learn their survival skills from their mothers. As they start to get older, the male and female African bush elephants take different roles. The males (bull elephants) leave their mother's herds and go with other males. In comparison, the female (cow elephants) start to learn how to take care of the young. 

Life expectancy

In the wild, the African bush elephant can live up to 70 years. They are one of the longest living mammals right next to humans. These animals' lifespan decreases due to many issues like diseases, poachings, and human conflict. As a consequence of these issues, African bush elephants are categorized as vulnerable species. This means that they are at risk of becoming endangered. Currently, there are around 350,000 African bush elephants left in Africa

As for in zoos, African bush elephants live shorter lifespans. Scientists found that wild elephants live three times longer than elephants in zoos. The reason behind this has to do with health problems and infertility. Over the past 10 years, researchers have found that zoo elephant deaths have exceeded births. The cause of this problem is due to the dramatic increase in infertility rates that have increased from 22 percent to 45 percent over a seven-year period. 

How can you help the African bush elephants?

At For Elephants, we are using scientific research to improve African elephants' fertility rates around the United States zoos. You can help us to continue our research by joining the “Herd of Heroes.” You can stay on top of all our research updates by signing up for our newsletter down below!

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