African Bush Elephant Diet: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Sara Clarke-Vivier

Sara is a recently graduated PhD in Education with interdisciplinary experience in K-12 education.

African bush elephants are the largest land animals on Earth. It takes a lot of food to fuel these giant mammals! In this lesson, we will explore what African bush elephants eat and how they eat it.

What Does an African Bush Elephant Eat?

African bush elephants are Earth's largest land animals. They can grow taller than 10 feet and weigh up to 16,000 pounds! It takes a lot of food to keep an animal that large happy and healthy - and a lot of time to collect that food. In the wild, African bush elephants may spend up to 80% of their days searching for snacks.

An African bush elephant eating grass
African Bush Elephant

African bush elephants are herbivores, which means they eat plants. These animals live across a variety of habitats in Africa, so their diets vary depending on where exactly they live. In general, African bush elephants eat grasses and plants and the leaves, bark and fruit from trees and shrubs.

Let's learn more about these grand animals' diets.


Most of an African bush elephant's diet is made up of grasses. Anywhere from 30% to 60% of what an elephant eats is grass. Elephants like grass because the taste is sweet and grass is easy to digest. However, as humans move in and begin farming in the places where African bush elephants have grazed for a long time, it becomes harder for elephants to find grasses.

Trees and Bark

Elephants make good use of trees in their habitats, eating both the leaves and bark of several different tree varieties. Tree bark is one of an elephant's favorite foods because it includes important minerals, like calcium, as well as roughage, which is important for their digestion. Elephants use their trunks to remove the bark from trees.

Acacia Tree

An acacia tree
Acacia Tree

One tree that elephants enjoy eating from is the acacia tree. Though African bush elephants would most like to eat the tender seedlings of a young Acacia, they will also eat the leaves and barks of the adult tree. The acacia tree is particularly important for elephants during dry seasons, when they rely on this plant to supply the protein in their diet.

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