The Encyclopedia of Arda - an interactive guide to the world of J.R.R. Tolkien
Found in the Harad, in the south of Middle-earth
Various species of the order Proboscidea1
From Greek elephas, meaning both 'elephant' and 'ivory'; the more ancient origins of the name are obscure2


About this entry:

  • Updated 12 January 2009
  • This entry is complete


Giant beasts of the southern lands

While we know much of the great elephant-like creatures known as the Mûmakil, it is not certain whether their lesser cousins that are still known today existed in Middle-earth. Gandalf does mention them in The Hobbit, so it is possible that they shared the wide burning plains of the Harad with their giant relatives.



All modern elephants belong to the family Elephantidae, but the wider grouping of Proboscidea also includes extinct species such as mammoths and mastodons. The gigantic Oliphaunts (or Mûmakil) would presumably have also fallen into the same broader classification.


The archaic English spelling of the name was oliphaunt (or a variant such as olyfaunt). This is the source of Tolkien's name 'Oliphaunt' for the larger varieties of Middle-earth.

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