The African bush elephant (Loxodonta africana), also known as the African savanna elephant, is the larger of the two species of African elephants, and the largest living terrestrial animal. These elephants were previously regarded as the same species, but the African forest elephant has been reclassified as L. cyclotis.

The bush elephant is much larger in height and weight than the forest elephant, while the forest elephant has rounder ears and a trunk that tends to be more hairy. The adult bush elephant has no predators other than humans. While the most numerous of the three extant elephant species, its population continues to decline due to poaching for ivory and destruction of habitat. Elephants are social animals, traveling in herds of females and adolescents, while adult males usually live alone. The desert elephant or desert-adapted elephant is not a distinct species of elephant, but are African bush elephants that live in the Namib and Sahara deserts.

The African forest elephant (Loxodonta cyclotis) is a forest-dwelling species of found in the . It is the smallest of the three species of elephant, but still one of the largest living terrestrial animals. The African forest elephant and the , L. africana, were considered to be one species until genetic studies indicated that they separated an estimated 2–7 million years ago. From an estimated population size of over 2 million prior to the colonization of Africa, the population in 2015 is estimated to be about 100,000 forest elephants, mostly living in the forests of . Due to a slower birth rate, the forest elephant takes longer to recover from poaching, which caused its population to fall by 65% from 2002 to 2014. As of 2014[update], the United States politician and diplomat quoted an estimate of the forest elephant becoming extinct by 2024.

African elephants are of the Loxodonta. The genus consists of two species: the , L. africana, and the smaller , L. cyclotis. Loxodonta (from λοξός, loxós: 'slanting, crosswise, oblique sided' + ὀδούς, odoús: odónt-, 'tooth') is one of two existing genera of the family . remains of Loxodonta have been found only in , in strata as old as the middle . However, sequence analysis of DNA extracted from fossils of undermines the validity of the genus.