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MEASUREMENT AND WEIGHT- Editorial Comment

Editorial Comment (Editorial Overview Text Replicated on Overall Species page - African Elephant - Loxodonta africana)

LENGTH
Adult:
Head and body length of adult males is 6.0 - 7.5 m (20 - 24.5 ft) and for adult females 5.4 - 6.9 m (18 - 22.5 ft).

  • Note: "body length" is defined differently in different texts. Mammalogists refer to the "head and body length" of an animal, from the nose tip to the base of the tail; these lengths are given in the species pages. This is NOT the same as the various "body length" measurements used for weight estimation, indicated in the page Medicating Elephants (Techniques Overview).

Newborns: --

HEIGHT
Adults: The height at the shoulder for males averages about 3.2 m, with a range of 3.0 to possibly 4.0 m; for females, shoulder height averages about 2.5 - 2.7 m with a height range of 2.4 - 3.4 m.
Juveniles: Calves measure about 0.8 - 1.05 m at the shoulder at birth.

WEIGHT
Adult:
Males average 5,000 kg with a range of 4,000 - 6,300 kg. Females average 2,800 kg with a range of 2,400 - 3,500 kg.
Newborns:
Elephant calves weigh about 90-120 kg, with an average of 106 kg, but with females averaging less than males and not exceeding 100 kg at birth.

GROWTH RATE
Growth rates can vary considerably between populations and is probably faster in captivity than in free-living elephants. Growth rate is faster in males than in females from about four years old; at puberty, the growth rate of females levels off but males show a growth spurt.

(References are available in detailed literature reports below)

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Length

Adult SUMMARY: Head and body length of adult males is 6.0 - 7.5 m (20 - 24.5 ft) and for adult females 5.4 - 6.9 m (18 - 22.5 ft).
  •  
  • Head and body, including the trunk, 600 - 750 cm. (B147)
  • Males: Head and body length 6.0 - 7.5 m (20 - 24.5 ft). (B285.w3)
  • Females: Head and body length 5.4 - 6.9 m (18 - 22.5 ft). (B285.w3)
  • Note: "body length" is defined differently in different texts. Mammalogists refer to the "head and body length" of an animal, from the nose tip to the base of the tail; these lengths are given in the species pages. This is NOT the same as the various "body length" measurements used for weight estimation, indicated in the page Medicating Elephants (Techniques Overview).
Neonate / Young SUMMARY: --
  • --

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Height

Adult SUMMARY: The height at the shoulder for males averages about 3.2 m, with a range of 3.0 to possibly 4.0 m; for females, shoulder height averages about 2.5 - 2.7 m with a height range of 2.4 - 3.4 m.
  • In the African elephant the highest point is the shoulder (withers). (B453.Intro.w13)
  • Height 3.0 - 4.0 m. (W580.Sept2005.w1)
  • Males:
    • Shoulder height 300-400 cm, mean 320 cm. (B147)
    • Shoulder height 3.3 m (10.8 ft). (B285.w3)
    • Shoulder height average just more than 3 m; heights of 3.2 m (Uganda, Zambia) and 3.5 m (Kruger Park) have been recorded. Heights of up to 4 m have been suggested. (B384.6.w6)
    • Average 3.2 m, range 3.0 - 4.0 m. (B387.w4)
    • Maximum height 3.6 m; average 2.7 - 3.2 m. (B10.49.w21)
  • Females:
    • Shoulder height 240-340 cm, mean 250 cm. (B147)
    • Shoulder height 2.7 m (8.9 ft). (B285.w3)
    • Shoulder height average about 2.7 m; heights of up to 2.9 m have been recorded. (B384.6.w6)
    • Average 2.5 m, range 2.4 - 3.4 m. (B387.w4)
    • Average height 2.3 - 2.7 m. (B10.49.w21)
Neonate / Young SUMMARY: Calves measure about 0.8 - 1.05 m at the shoulder at birth.
  • Elephant calves are about 0.85 m at the shoulder at birth. (B384.5.w5)
  • At birth the calf is about 0.8 - 1.05 m at the shoulder. (B453.6.w6)
  • About 0.85 m at birth and 1.10 m by one year old. (D301.1.w1)

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Weight

Adult SUMMARY: Males average 5,000 kg with a range of 4,000 - 6,300 kg. Females average 2,800 kg with a range of 2,400 - 3,500 kg.
  • 4,000 - 7,000 kg. (W580.Sept2005.w1)
  • Males:
    • 4,000 - 6,300 kg, mean 5,000 kg. (B147)
    • 5.5 to 6.0 tonnes (Uganda, Zambia). (B384.6.w6)
    • Average 5,000 kg, range 4,000 - 6,300 kg. (B387.w4)
    • Average 4,100 - 5,000 kg; maximum 6,400 kg. (B10.49.w21)
  • Females:
    • 2,400-3,500 kg, mean 2,800 kg. (B147)
    • 2.5 to 2.8 tonnes average, maximum 3.2 tonnes (Uganda, Zambia). (B384.6.w6)
    • Average 2,800 kg, range 2,400 - 3,500 kg. (B387.w4)
    • Average 2,300 - 4,000 kg. (B10.49.w21)
Neonate / Young SUMMARY: Calves weigh about 90-120 kg, with an average of 106 kg, but with females averaging less than males and not exceeding 100 kg at birth.
  • Newborn calves weigh 90 to 120 kg. (B147)
  • African elephant calves weigh about 120 kg (265 lb) at birth. (B285.w3)
  • Elephant calves average about 106 kg; weights not exceeding 100 kg for females but as high as 120 kg for males have been suggested. (B384.5.w5)

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Growth Rate

SUMMARY: Growth rates can vary considerably between populations and is probably faster in captivity than in free-living elephants. Growth rate is faster in males than in females from about four years old; at puberty, the growth rate of females levels off but males show a growth spurt.
  • Growth curves for elephants from two populations in Murchison Falls National Park, Uganda, and one in Tsavo National Park, Kenya, indicated more rapid initial growth (height and weight) for the Tsavo elephants than for those in the Murchison Falls populations. It was noted that higher growth rates have been recorded in captive elephants. (P17.21.w1)
  • A study of elephants at Basle Zoo, from arrival at about one year of age, found growth to be linear, but leveling off in females at about 15 or 16 years old, while males were still growing. Two males had monthly weight gains averaging 22.6 kg and 21.0 kg. (B451.7.w7)
  • In areas where the protein level of available food is low during the dry season, growth rates may be lower during the dry season also. This was demonstrated in elephants in Kabalenga Falls National Park, Uganda, while elephants from Rwenzori National Park, in which reasonable protein levels were found in the diet year round, there was no such change in growth rate. (B451.7.w7)
  • Growth rate in African elephants is faster in males than in females from about four years old. By puberty, males are about 15 cm higher (shoulder height) and 300 kg heavier than females. At this stage, growth rate of females levels off while males appear to develop a growth spurt, resulting in a height difference of about 20% and males weighing nearly twice as much as females. (B451.7.w7)
    • In one study, for full grown animals (60 years old), males and females showed heights of 3.07 m and 2.52 m and weights of 4743 kg and 2737 kg respectively. (B451.7.w7)
  • From 0.85 m at birth, calves reach 1.10 m by one year old. (D301.1.w1)
  • The following table indicated suggested growth for free-living elephants in South Africa: (D301.App10.w1)

    Age (years)

    Height (m)  Mass (kg)
    0 0.85 120
    1 1.15 300
    3 1.30 400
    6 1.50 600
    10 1.90 1,200
    15 2.20 1,600
    40 2.60 2,400

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Authors & Referees

Authors Dr Debra Bourne MA VetMB PhD MRCVS (V.w5)
Referee Susan K. Mikota DVM (V.w72)

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