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It’s hard to miss the world’s largest land mammal. Weighing nearly 10 tonnes and standing up to 4 m (13 ft) tall, the African elephant is nearly as big as a double decker bus! But of course, the elephant is known for another distinctive feature too – its trunk. This is actually an extension of the elephant’s nose and upper lip and contains an incredible 40,000 different muscles. It is used for breathing and smelling, but also as a tool – just like your arm or hand.

The next thing you might notice about an elephant is the tusks. In African elephants these are forward curving and are sometimes used as tools to loosen salt and mineral rich soil, which is then eaten. Unfortunately, these tusks are also the reason why many African elephants are still being hunted and killed by poachers today, despite an international ban on the trade of ivory in 1990.

Conservation status | Near threatened

Fact Sheet

Scientific name

Loxodonta africana

Family

Elephantidae

Order

Proboscidea

Lifespan

About 65 to 70 years – longer than any other mammals except humans

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