How wide is an elephant

Gentle pachyderms

Species profile for the African and Asian elephant

They are the largest land mammals on earth. Adult males have no natural enemies other than humans. The quiet giants, who travel long distances every day, are mainly hunted for ivory. Around a hundred elephants die every day.

The largest elephant populations could be found in East and South Africa. - Photo: Ralph Frank

Elephants are known for their diverse social communities and close family ties. Their herds are made up of related females and their young. Over the decades, the long-lived animals collect social and ecological knowledge with which the survival of the entire group is ensured in times of threat - such as food and water shortages as a result of droughts. Find out more about the gray giants in the species profiles of the African and Asian elephants.


African elephant

Species profile: African elephant (854.14 KB)

Elephants are a key species - as "ecosystem engineers" they shape Africa's forests and savannahs. Due to the spread of human settlements and their infrastructures, the range of the animals was reduced by almost two thirds between 1979 and 2007. The destruction and fragmentation of their habitat increasingly brings them into conflict with farmers and cattle herders. By far the greatest threat, however, is greed for ivory, to which around 55 elephants are poached every day.


Find out more about the African elephants in the species profile


Asian elephant

Species profile: Asian elephant (1023.39 KB)

The species has already been displaced from 95 percent of its historical range. Instead of nine million square kilometers, they only live on 486,800. India is home to the largest population, followed by Sri Lanka. The destruction and fragmentation of their habitat in the most densely populated continent on earth is increasingly bringing them into conflict with people. Poaching and removal for captivity remain a threat to the declining species.

Find out more about the Asian elephants in the species profile


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