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African elephants are the two species of elephants in the genus Loxodonta, one of the two existing genera in Elephantidae. Although it is commonly believed that the genus was named by Georges Cuvier in 1825, Cuvier spelled it Loxodonte. An anonymous author romanized the spelling to Loxodonta and the ICZN recognizes this as the proper authority.
Fossil Loxodonta have only been found in Africa, where they developed in the middle Pliocene.
Males stand 3.64 meters (12 feet) tall at the shoulder and weigh 5455 kg (12,000 lbs), while females stand 3 meters (10 feet) and weigh 3636 kg to 4545 kg (8,000 to 10,000 lbs).
Elephants have four molars, each weighs about 11 lbs and measures about 12 inches long. The front pair wear down and drop out in pieces as the Two new molars emerge in the back of the mouth and the old molars shift forward. to replace those that dropped out. Elephants replace their teeth six times. At about 40 to 60 years of age the elephant no longer has teeth and will likely die of starvation, a common cause of death.
Their tusks are teeth, the second set of incisors become the tusks. They are used for digging for roots and stripping the bark off trees for food, and, fighting each other during mating season,or defending themselves against predators. they weigh from 50-100 pounds and can can be from 5 to 8 feet long, both bulls and cows have tusks.
Bush and Forest Elephants were formerly considered subspecies of the same species Loxodonta africana. However, they are nowadays generally considered to be two distinct species. The African Forest Elephant has a longer and narrower mandible, rounder ears, a different number of toenails, straighter and downward tusks, and considerably smaller size. With regard to the number of toenails: the African Bush Elephant normally has 4 toenails on the frontfoot and 3 on the hindfoot, the African Forest Elephant normally has 5 toenails on the frontfoot and 4 on the hindfoot (like the Asian elephant), but hybrids between the two species commonly occur.
Poaching significantly reduced the population of Loxodonta in certain regions during the 20th century. An example of this poaching pressure is in the eastern region of Chad—elephant herds there were substantial as recently as 1970, with an estimated population of 300,000; however, by 2006 the number had dwindled to about 10,000. The African elephant nominally has governmental protection, but poaching is still a serious issue.
Human encroachment into or adjacent to natural areas where bush elephants occur has led to recent research into methods of safely driving groups of elephants away from humans, including the discovery that playback of the recorded sounds of angry honey bees are remarkably effective at prompting elephants to flee an area.
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