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Perhaps one of the world’s most emotive and iconic animals, the African bush or​​​​​ savannah elephant (Loxodonta africana) is the largest living terrestrial mammal, with the largest recorded individual reaching a massive four meters at the shoulder and weighing an impressive ten tonnes. The African bush elephant’s brain is bigger than that of any other animal and its skull is exceptionally large, having evolved to support the trunk and the heavy teeth and jaws. The skull comprises up to 25 percent of the elephant’s total body weight. Elephants are unusual among mammals in that they continue to grow throughout their life, although the rate at which they grow slows after they reach sexual maturity. The hefty body of the African bush elephant is supported by stocky, pillar-like legs which have thick, heavy, vertically-aligned bones. The African bush elephant has four toes on the forefeet and three toes on the hind feet, unlike both the African forest elephant (Loxodonta cyclotis) and the Asian elephant (Elephas maximus), which each have five toes on the front feet and four toes on the hind feet. The feet are broad and the toes are embedded in a fatty substance which cushions the weight of the animal and enables it to move more quietly. The thick skin of the African bush elephant is generally dull brownish-grey, with a sparse scattering of black, bristly hairs. The skin is wrinkly and adapted for keeping the body cool, as the wrinkles increase the surface area of the skin, trapping moisture which then takes much longer to evaporate than if the skin was smooth. The end of the tail is flattened and has a tuft, of course, crooked hairs.  characteristic outward-curving tusks of the African bush elephant are actually elongated upper incisors, which are formed from a unique composition of calcareous materials. Both the male and female African bush elephant have tusks and, like the rest of the body, the tusks continue to grow throughout the elephant’s life. The upper lip and nose of all elephant species are elongated and muscular, forming the distinctive trunk. The African bush elephant uses its trunk to form and amplify vocalizations, to feed from the ground and from trees and shrubs, to break off branches, and to pick leaves, shoots, and fruits. It is also used to aid drinking, greeting, touching and other social behaviors. The end of the trunk has two prehensile finger-like lips which are covered in fine, sensory hairs. The large, oversized ears of the African bush elephant are distinguished from other elephant species by the presence of overhanging flaps along the upper edges. As well as playing a role in communication, the ears are also important in temperature regulation and heat loss. A rich network of blood vessels is found immediately beneath the thin skin which covers the back of the ears, and when temperatures rise the ears are fanned to help increase the flow of air and cool the blood through evaporation. African bush elephants use sounds well below the range of human hearing to communicate over long distances. An elephant can eat 600 pounds (272 kilograms) of food a day. Unlike the Asian elephants, both sexes of this species have tusks and have a concave shaped back, and two fingered trunks.

African Bush Elephant Subspecies