Additional Information:- The African elephant (Loxodonta) is a genus comprising two living elephant species, the African bush elephant (L. africana) and the smaller African forest elephant (L. cyclotis). Both are social herbivores with grey skin, but differ in the size and colour of their tusks and in the shape and size of their ears and skulls.
Both species are considered at heavy risk of extinction on the IUCN Red List; as of 2021, the bush elephant is considered endangered and the forest elephant is considered critically endangered. They are threatened by habitat loss and fragmentation, and poaching for the illegal ivory trade is a threat in several range countries as well.
Skin, ears, and trunk
A male African bush elephant skull on display at the Museum of Osteology African elephants have grey folded skin up to 30 mm (1.2 in) thick that is covered with sparse, bristled dark-brown to black hair. Short tactile hair grows on the trunk, which has two finger-like processes at the tip, whereas Asian elephants only have one. Their large ears help to reduce body heat; flapping them creates air currents and exposes the ears' inner sides where large blood vessels increase heat loss during hot weather. The trunk is a prehensile elongation of its upper lip and nose. This highly sensitive organ is innervated primarily by the trigeminal nerve, and thought to be manipulated by about 40,000–60,000 muscles. Because of this muscular structure, the trunk is so strong that elephants can use it for lifting about 3% of their own body weight. They use it for smelling, touching, feeding, drinking, dusting, producing sounds, loading, defending and attacking. Elephants sometimes swim underwater and use their trunks as snorkels.