African Elephant vs Asian Elephant: 5 Key Differences

Written by August Buck
Published: February 25, 2022
Image Credit FOTOGRIN/Shutterstock.com
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Unless you know what to look for, you may not know the difference between an African elephant vs Asian elephant. These two elephant species belong to different genuses and have many distinguishing features between them. Not only are they physically different from one another in many ways, they live in different geographical locations and their habitats do not overlap!

In this article, we will address all of these differences in detail so that you can learn how to tell the difference between African elephants and Asian elephants. Let’s get started and learn more about these gentle giants now! 

Comparing African Elephant vs Asian Elephant

african elephant vs asian elephant
The African elephant is much larger compared to the Asian elephant, both in size and weight.

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African ElephantAsian Elephant
GenusLoxodontaElephas
Size and Weight10-12 feet tall; 8,000-12,000 pounds7-10 feet tall; 6,000-11,000 pounds
Head and TusksRounded head; large tusksTwo humps on head; small tusks
Ears and TrunkLarge billowing ears; ringed trunk with two lipsSmall folded ears; hard trunk with one top lip
LocationAfrica; dry and hot climatesAsia; moist rainforests

Key Differences Between African Elephant vs Asian Elephant

african elephant vs asian elephant
An Asian elephant has smaller ears compared to an African elephant, as well as a more uniquely shaped head.

LauraBerlin/Shutterstock.com

There are many key differences separating an African elephant vs Asian elephant. Not only are they found in completely separate parts of the world, they live in different habitats as well. The African elephant is much larger compared to the Asian elephant, both in size and weight. An Asian elephant has smaller ears compared to an African elephant, as well as a more uniquely shaped head.

But this is not where their differences end. Let’s take a look at all of their unique characteristics now! 

African Elephant vs Asian Elephant: Location and Genus

african elephant vs asian elephant
These two elephant species are completely separate from one another, with African elephants belonging to the Loxodonta genus and Asian elephants belonging to the Elephas genus.

An obvious difference between African elephants and Asian elephants has to do with their geographic location and genus. These two elephant species are completely separate from one another, with African elephants belonging to the Loxodonta genus and Asian elephants belonging to the Elephas genus. 

These two creatures also exist in totally separate parts of the world, which means that they never meet in real life unless they are in a zoo situation. African elephants only exist in Africa, while Asian elephants only exist in Asia. These two distinct habitats greatly affect their overall appearance and diets as well, given that African elephants live in hot and dry savannas, while Asian elephants prefer moist rainforests. 

African Elephant vs Asian Elephant: Size and Weight 

african elephant vs asian elephant
For the most part, African elephants have much larger tusks compared to Asian elephants.

Another difference between an African elephant vs Asian elephant is their size and weight. While both of these creatures are extremely large and impressive to behold up close, African elephants far outweigh Asian elephants. This also means that African elephants are taller than Asian elephants by a large margin. 

For example, African elephants are 10-12 feet tall and weigh 8,000-12,000 pounds, while Asian elephants are 7-10 feet tall and weigh 6,000-11,000 pounds. While neither animal is small by any means, African elephants are much bigger in every way when compared to Asian elephants.

African Elephant vs Asian Elephant: Head and Tusks

african elephant vs asian elephant
African elephant heads are completely rounded and large, while Asian elephant heads form two hills or humps on the top, with a line down the center of their face.

Mogens Trolle/Shutterstock.com

When looking at an African elephant and an Asian elephant side-by-side, you can really tell the differences in their head shapes and tasks. For the most part, African elephants have much larger tusks compared to Asian elephants. While both male and female elephants can have tusks, it is not a guarantee for either of the species. But you can expect African elephants to have more impressive tasks when compared to Asian elephant tusks. 

Another obvious difference between these two creatures is their head shape. When you compare an African elephant head to an Asian elephant head, you will notice that the shape of their skull is very different. African elephant heads are completely rounded and large, while Asian elephant heads form two hills or humps on the top, with a line down the center of their face. Check out all of these photos in this article for comparison! 

African Elephant vs Asian Elephant: Ears and Trunk

african elephant vs asian elephant
An African elephant’s ears are extremely large compared to an Asian elephant’s ears, and an Asian elephant’s ears often look more crumpled compared to the full shape of an African elephant’s ears.

Dmytro Gilitukha/Shutterstock.com

One of the easiest ways to tell the difference between an African elephant vs Asian elephant is looking at their ears and trunks. An African elephant’s ears are extremely large compared to an Asian elephant’s ears, and an Asian elephant’s ears often look more crumpled compared to the full shape of an African elephant’s ears. 

If you are able to get a close enough look, you will also notice that an African elephant’s trunk is very different from an Asian elephant’s trunk. The African elephant’s trunk has two distinct lips that they use for grabbing and holding things, while an Asian elephant trunk only has a single lip on the top that they use to grab things with. 

African Elephant vs Asian Elephant: Body and Skin

african elephant vs asian elephant
African elephant skin is much more wrinkled and creased when compared to Asian elephant skin.

Volodymyr Burdiak/Shutterstock.com

A final identifying difference between African elephants and Asian elephants is their body and skin. African elephant skin is much more wrinkled and creased when compared to Asian elephant skin. You may also notice that Asian elephants have skin that is more speckled when compared to African elephants.

According to a recent study, African elephants have the amount of wrinkles that they do in order to retain water and prevent dehydration while traversing the African Savanna. Asian elephants do not have the same concern, as they live in more tropical and wet climates.

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