This old “Loxodonta africana” is strolling the plains of Etosha National Park in the north of Namibia, Southern Africa.
African elephants are the elephants of the genus Loxodonta (Greek for ‘oblique-sided tooth’), consisting of two extant species: the African bush elephant and the smaller African forest elephant. Loxodonta is one of the two existing genera in the family Elephantidae. Although it is commonly believed that the genus was named by Georges Cuvier in 1825, Cuvier spelled it “Loxodonte”. An anonymous author romanized the spelling to “Loxodonta”, and the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature (ICZN) recognizes this as the proper authority.
Fossil members of Loxodonta have only been found in Africa, where they developed in the middle Pliocene.
The African elephant is the largest living terrestrial animal. Its thickset body rests on stocky legs, and it has a concave back. Its large ears enable heat loss. Its upper lip and nose forms a trunk. The trunk acts as a fifth limb, a sound amplifier and an important method of touch. The African elephant’s trunk ends in two opposing lips, whereas the Asian elephant trunk ends in a single lip. African bush elephants are bigger than Asian elephants. Males stand 3.2–4.0 m (10–13 ft) tall at the shoulder and weigh 4,700–6,048 kg (10,360–13,330 lb), while females stand 2.2–2.6 m (7–9 ft) tall and weigh 2,160–3,232 kg (4,762–7,125 lb).
The largest recorded individual stood four metres (13.1 ft) to the shoulders and weighed 10 tonnes (10 long tons; 11 short tons).