What Is the Scientific Name for an Elephant?

Generally speaking, elephants are broadly classified as either Loxodonta africana, if African, or Elephas maximus, if Asian. However, genetic research has found that subspecies exist in both groups and the scientific, or taxonomic, name is therefore not so simple to discern.

African elephants are labeled differently, depending on whether they inhabit the savannas of east and South Africa, in which case they are named Loxodonta africana africana, or the forests of central and western Africa (in which case they are Loxodonta africana cyclotis).

Asian elephants, meanwhile, are classified as Elephas maximus maximus if from Sri Lanka, Elephas maximus indicus if from the mainland, Elephas maximus borneensis if from Borneo and Elephas maximus samatranus if from Sumatra.