African vs. Asian elephant

African vs. Asian elephant

African and Asian elephant are two species of elephant that belong to different genera due to numerous differences that exist between these two huge mammals. They cannot interbreed and produce healthy offspring due to significant differences in genetic code. As their name suggests, African and Asian elephant can be found in Africa and Asia. Both species are social animals that live in large herds made of genetically related females and their offspring. African and Asian elephant are very popular circus animals because of the large size, intelligence and ability to perform various tricks. Asian elephants are often used in India to carry heavy load and people. Both types of elephants are large, grey in color and equipped with long trunk, but they can be easily differentiated via:

Size and Shape of the Body

African elephant is much bigger than Asian elephant. It can reach up to 15.400 pounds of weight, while maximum weight of Asian elephant is 13.200 pounds. African elephant has concave back (with well-defined slope), while Asian elephant has convex or flat back. Asian elephant has two humped structures (twin dome) on top of the head, while African elephant has rounded head with a single dome on top of it. Lower lip of African elephant is short and round, while it is long and tapered in Asian elephant.


African elephant has much larger ears than Asian elephant and they are shaped like Africa. African elephant inhabits warm, open, treeless savannahs and it uses its large ears to eliminate excess heat from the body. Asian elephant inhabits jungles in cooler areas and has smaller and more rounded ears than its African cousin.


African elephant has lighter trunk covered with more rings than trunk of Asian elephant. It ends with two "fingers" which facilitate gripping of various objects. Trunk of Asian elephant has less rings and it ends with only one "finger".


African elephants of both gender have tusks. Unlike them, only male Asian elephants are equipped with tusks. Females have rudimentary tusks (called tushes) which can be also seen in some males.


Asian elephant has smoother skin compared with skin of African elephant which is wrinkled.

Number of Ribs

African elephant has 21 pairs of ribs, while Asian elephant has 20 pairs of ribs.

Number of Toenails

African elephant has 4 or 5 toenails on the front feet and 3 to 4 toenails on the hind feet. Asian elephant has 5 toenails on the front feet and 4 to 5 toenails on the hind feet.


Both African and Asian elephant are herbivores, but they prefer different types of plants. Diet of African elephant is based on leaves, while Asian elephant usually consumes grass.

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