Elephants are the largest living land animals in the world. Among these are the African bush elephant, African forest elephant, and Asian elephant. They are found throughout sub-Saharan Africa as well as South and Southeast Asia. This includes savannah, forest, desert, and marsh habitats.
Of the three species, the African bush elephant is the largest. Males (bulls) reach heights of up to 13 feet at the shoulder and can weigh up to seven tons. Females (cows) measure about nine feet tall at the shoulder and weigh three and a half tons on average. African forest elephants are the smallest species, with bulls reaching just 10 feet tall and weighing only about four tons.
Elephants are known for their impressive trunks, which contain up to 60,000 individual muscles. It is the animal's most important body part, responsible for breathing, smelling, touching, grasping, and more. Some elephants have been known to lift weights of over 770 pounds with their trunks, but can use them to perform much more delicate tasks, too. Elephants are capable of cracking the shell of a nut without damaging the kernel inside.
As of 2022, all three species of elephant are endangered, with African forest elephants being critically so. We can only hope that conservation efforts will save them from the brink of extinction.