The Elephant is one of the most awe-inspiring and majestic animals on earth, and the African Savanna Elephant is the most well-known of them all.

What many consider to be the true ‘King of the Jungle”, savannah elephants are the gentle giants of the African bush and a modern day version of the ancient mammoths, from which they directly descend.

The sheer size of these incredible animals is enough to leave anyone lost for words. Getting close to an elephant on safari is the closest thing we’ll ever have to a Jurassic Park experience!

What is the African Savanna Elephant?

The African savannah elephant is the largest land mammal on earth, and a firm favourite among tourists and safari-goers visiting Africa.

Elephants are large mammals which are found all across the continent. They are a keystone species and one of the most important animals in Africa.


What does the African elephant look like?

Elephants are fully covered in thick, grey and robust skin. Their skin is also covered with very fine hairs, which gradually fall off with age.

They have very large ears which mimic the African continent in shape, and are often seen flapping these giant ears to help cool their bodies. Ear flapping is also used as a means of threat against would-be challengers.

African elephant walking in the road in Kruger National Park | © Todd Skinner (@toddskinner_wildlife)

How big is the African elephant?

The African elephant is the largest land mammal on earth. A mature bull elephant can stand at 12ft. (4m) at the shoulder and is definitely an awe-inspiring sight! Females are slightly smaller than males, but still cut an impressive figure. A large female stands at around 10ft. (3m).

An African elephant’s weight is equally as impressive with males growing to around 8 tonnes, which equates to around 4 average-sized cars. Again, females are slightly smaller and tip the scales at around 5 tonnes on average.

African elephant trunk

The elephants most iconic feature is its trunk. This amazingly adapted appendage is propelled by hundreds of thousands of individual muscles and nerves, which allows them the highest level of control. The trunk is one of the African elephants most important means of interacting with the world, and is one of its most sensitive body parts.

African savanna elephant trunk
Inquisitive elephant reaching its trunk out towards the camera | © Simon Needham (

Elephants use their trunks for almost everything; breathing, collecting food from the ground or trees, drinking water, communicating and showing affection.

African Elephant Tusks

Elephant tusks are one of the species’ most impressive and unique features, however they have also proven to be one of its greatest downfalls. Tusks are essentially elongated teeth that grow outside of their mouths. Their tusks are rooted deeply in their skulls, and one third of the tusk is not visible. Much like any other teeth, elephant tusks are made of dentine, covered in a layer of enamel.

Their tusks are one of their most grandiose and impressive features, especially in old bulls whose tusks can be more than 7ft. (2m) long.

Bull elephant with giant tusks in Amboseli National Park, Kenya | © Mark Drury (@markjdrury)

They use their tusks to dig, gather food, lift objects, and as a measure of protection. Territorial bulls will use their tusks in fights with other elephants.


What does the African Elephant Eat?

African elephants need an average of around 440 to 550 lbs. (200-250kg) of food per day to keep their massive bodies functioning healthily. They spend at least 18 hours a day foraging for food and are known to cover large distances in search of the sweetest spoils. It is not uncommon for a herd to walk over 20 miles (30km) in a single day, despite the arid African climate.