There are more animals in this world than we can wrap our minds around, but some of the most popular are also some of the largest. We know that animals vary from near microscopic to overwhelmingly huge, and here we’ve decided to focus on the heaviest animals that live on the land. Their weights alone are imposing and their beauty simply astounding. Here we’re taking a moment to appreciate the entirety of these awesome, massive creatures.
#1 – African Bush Elephant
The African bush elephant is the largest land animal in the world, with males weighing an average of 13,230 pounds. The largest recorded specimen was a male standing 13-feet tall at the shoulder and weighing 22,930 pounds. Females are about half this size, but even still remain a very large animal. Adult African bush elephants have no natural predators due to their size, but the calves are regularly hunted by lions and crocodiles. Unfortunately, habitat loss, ivory and trophy hunting by humans is what’s caused these magnificent creatures to become endangered.
#2 – Asian Elephant
Like their African cousins, Asian elephants are extremely large animals. There are three main subspecies; the Sri Lankan, Indian and Sumatran elephants. The average weight for males across these is roughly 6,000 pounds, although the highest recorded weight was a bull of 7 tonnes (about 15,400 pounds). Like the African elephants, Asian elephants are endangered mostly due to human intervention. Habitat loss, poaching and trophy hunting are the major killers of these precious animals.
#3 – Southern White Rhinoceros
The southern white rhinoceros is the more widely seen of the two white rhinoceros species. Considered not endangered and only nearing the threat of extinction, these animals are surviving well in the wild and captivity. Unfortunately, the northern white rhinoceros is thought to be extinct in the wild with only three individuals living in captivity at the moment. The southern white rhinoceros weighs an average of 3,750-5,070 pounds. These massive animals readily breed in captivity, which has helped their fight against habitat loss, poaching and the demand for rhinoceros horns.
#4 – Hippopotamus
Hippopotamus are unique creatures. Although they resemble pigs physiologically and are psuedoruminants like camels, their closest living relatives are actually whales and dolphins. The common hippopotamus is the largest of the two species, with adults weighing an average of 3,310 pounds and 2,870 pounds for males and females respectively. They are known for their incredible teeth and jaw structures and aggressive nature towards humans. Habitat loss and hunting are the biggest threats to this vulnerable species, making humans responsible again for the loss of animals.
#5 – Giraffe
The giraffe is not only the tallest land animal, it’s one of the heaviest as well. Of all the giraffe species, the Masai giraffe is the heaviest with females reaching 2,600 pounds and males 4,250 pounds. With their large size and unique body shapes, giraffes have few natural predators. Adults might fall victim to lions or Nile crocodiles, while calves are more vulnerable to becoming meals for these and leopards, spotted hyenas and African wild dogs. Because of their previous history with humans, giraffes are a protected species in most of their natural habitat. Although still classified as Vulnerable, they have been successfully reintroduced and the populations are growing.
#6 – Gaur
The gaur is a wild cattle species living throughout South and Southeast Asia. They are powerfully built animals, weighing an average of 1,430 to 2,200 pounds. Overhunting and habitat loss has threatened the gaur, although their populations are thriving in protected areas. Although leopards and dholes occasionally attack young and unhealthy gaur, their impressive size makes their main natural predator humans. Tigers and crocodiles have been known to take down adults, but this is also rather rare.