Difference Between African and Asian Elephants (With Table)

Elephants are the current biggest land mammal on the earth. These herbivores are found in the continents of Africa and Asia only. As a result, there subsists two species of elephants at most, i.e., African species and Asian species of elephants. Having the same community structures of matriarchy, there exists a lot of differences between the two species mainly because of the climatic conditions in which they live. 

African Elephants vs Asian Elephants

The main difference between African and Asian elephants is that African elephants are native to the continent of Africa and have features congruent to the hot climate of Africa. On the other hand, Asian elephants are native to the Asian continent and are acclimatized to Asian climatic conditions which is less harsh than that of Africa.

African elephants possess bigger ears more or less in the shape of the African continent and round heads. They are heavier and taller than Asian elephants.

Asian elephants possess smaller, round ears with heads in the shape of twin-dome with an indent running through the middle of the head. They are lighter and shorter than African elephants.

Comparison Table Between African and Asian Elephants 

Parameters of ComparisonAfrican ElephantsAsian Elephants
Native placeContinent of AfricaContinent of Asia
Size and shape of earsThese elephants possess African continent-shaped ears which are larger than that of Asian elephants Asian elephants possess round-shaped ears which are smaller in size than that of African elephants
Head shapeThe shape of the head of African elephants is roundThe shape of the head of the Asian elephants is twin-dome with an indent running through the middle of the head
TusksTusks growing potential exists in African elephants whether male or femaleTusks growing potential exists in male Asian elephants only
WeightThese species of elephants possess a weight of about 9 tons Asian elephants possess weigh 6 tons approximately
HeightAfrican elephants grow up to 10-13 feet at shoulder approximately in heightAsian elephants grow up to about 11.5 feet at shoulder in height
Skin texture The texture of the skin is wrinkled and cracked to retain water and prevent dehydration in the hot climate of AfricaThe texture of the skin of Asian elephants is smoother when compared with that of African elephants
LifespanAfrican elephants have a lifetime of roughly 70 yearsAsian elephants have a life expectancy of 48 years

What is an African Elephant?

Elephants that are found indigenously in Africa are known as African elephants. Two subcategories were made within the species of African elephants in 2000 by the scientists which are African savanna elephants and African forest elephants. The former is larger than the latter. The genetic difference between them is the same as that between lions and tigers. 

African elephants own substantially bigger ears in comparison to the ears of Asian species of elephants. The reason behind this is the hot climate of Africa. Larger ears help them to fritter away more body heat. Ears’ shape resembles the shape of the African continent. Furthermore, the shape of their head is round.

Tusks developing potential exists in African elephants whether they are male or female. However, tusks can’t be found in every African elephant. African savanna elephants possess a weight of about 9 tonnes. African forest elephants are lighter in weight. The tallest point in African elephants is the shoulder. African savanna elephants can grow up to 10-13 feet at shoulder in height with African forest elephants having a slightly shorter height.

The texture of the skin of African elephants is wrinkled and cracked to retain water and prevent dehydration in the hot climate of Africa. African elephants own small lower lips which are round in shape. African elephants possess 21 pairs of ribs on average which is larger than Asian elephants. 

What is an Asian Elephant?

Elephants that are found indigenously in Asia are known as Asian elephants. Asian elephants have round ears which are smaller than the ear size of African elephants as Asian elephants do not bear the brunt of the hot climate of Africa. Therefore, Asian elephants need to fritter away less amount of body heat. These elephants possess the head of twin-dome shape with an indent running through the middle of the head.

Tusks growing potential exists in male Asian elephants only though not all-male Asian elephants grow. In comparison to African elephants with larger tusks, Asian elephants acquire smaller tusks. Asian elephants weigh around 6 tons and can grow up to 11.5 feet at shoulder in height. Although, the tallest point in Asian elephants is back. 

Asian elephants can be said to have somewhat smoother skin when compared with that African elephants. They possess narrow lips which are longer. On average 20 pairs of ribs are found in Asian species of elephants. The shape of the teeth of Asian elephants is diamond which is different from the sloping shape of teeth of African elephants. Moreover, the lifespan of Asian elephants is 48 years approximately which is less than the 70 years of lifespan of African elephants. 

Main Differences Between African Elephants and Asian Elephants

  1. African elephants own bigger-sized, African continent-shaped ears whereas Asian elephants own smaller-sized, round-shaped ears.
  2. The circular head is the feature of African elephants while Asian elephants have heads in the shape of double-dome with an indent running through the middle of the head.
  3. Tusks can be grown in both sexes of African elephants. However, tusks can be grown in the male sex only if the elephant is of Asian species.
  4. Heavier weight and larger body are characteristic of African elephants because Asian elephants possess comparatively less weight and height. Also, the skin texture of African elephants is wrinkled and cracked and that of Asian elephants is smoother.
  5. African elephants live almost 22 years longer in comparison to Asian elephants. The lifespan of African and Asian elephants is around 70 and 48 years respectively.

Conclusion

In toto, significant differences exist between the African and Asian elephants. Seeing a heavier, taller, with African continent-shaped large ears and round head can easily be recognized as African elephants. On the other hand, encountering an Asian elephant means an elephant that is comparatively less heavy, less tall, has round-shaped smaller ears, and a twin-dome-partitioned-shaped head.

References

  1. https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/oryx/article/distribution-and-status-of-the-asian-elephant/4611389E09C0DAC9E2AF6C3C3B94219C
  2. https://www.jstor.org/stable/3798671