The African forest elephant is an endangered species now. Native to the Congo Basin and West Africa, this species of elephant is the smallest of the three different elephant species. The African forest elephant is called the 'megagardener of the forest' because it feeds on seeds, leaves, fruits, and tree bark.
Currently, the African forest elephant faces many threats, including poaching, habitat loss and fragmentation. In fact, it has officially been declared an endangered species. Learn more about this magnificent animal here.
What is the African Forest Elephant?
The African forest elephant is a species of elephant found in Africa. Broadly, there are two kinds of elephants in Africa. One is the African bush elephant (African savanna elephant), and the other is the African forest elephant. People always believed that these two elephant species were the same, but research shows that they are different.
African forest elephants got their name from where they live - African forests. Usually, this elephant is seen in Gabon's forest, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia, and Ghana. However, the population of African forest elephants has been steadily declining due to illegal poaching.
African Forest Elephant
Congo Basin, West Africa
Megagardener of the Forest
Seeds, Leaves, Fruits, and Tree Bark
Threats Faced by the African Forest Elephant
The African forest elephant is a magnificent creature that is, unfortunately, facing the threat of extinction. It has already been declared an endangered species. Here are the major threats faced by the African forest elephant:
Poaching is one of the biggest threats faced by the African forest elephant. The tusks of these elephants are a prized possession for many, and they are sold illegally around the world. Between 2006-2013, 2,871 African forest elephant tusks were poached in Hong Kong.
African forests are being transformed into plantations for livestock farming, non-timber crops, and urbanization. Therefore, the African forest elephant faces the threat of habitat loss and fragmentation.
Bushmeat trade has recently evolved in Central Africa and has become an international business. It threatens the existence of African forest elephants. The hunters target young and old elephants alike and disrupt their lives.
African Forest Elephant - Facts
The African forest elephant's skin colour is grey, and it converts from yellowish to red after wallowing. An African forest elephant has five toenails on the hindfoot and four on the forefront. Its ears are oval-shaped with tiny elliptical-shaped lips. Their large ears help them in reducing body heat.
When they flap the ears, it produces an air current. It also exposes their ear's inner sides. The back is straight and has tusks, which are pointed downwards. The African forest elephant's trunk is the prehensile elongation of its nose and upper lip. Its mighty trunk can lift about 3% of its body weight.
African forest elephant tusks are straight and pointed downwards. Both male and female African Forest Elephants have tusks developed from deciduous teeth called tushes. When the claves reach one year, they are replaced by tusks.
Food Habits of African Forest Elephant
- African forest elephants are usually vegetarian.
- They thrive on fruits, tree bark, leaves, seeds, and grasses.
- These elephants are called 'megagardeners' since they disperse the seeds of multiple tree species.
- They also flock to mineral-rich waterholes to fulfil their needs for minerals.
African Forest Elephant - Behaviour
African forest elephants live in joint families like humans, and the family consists of adults, sub-adults, sons and daughters, etc. When their children become young, they start getting separated. When young males reach sexual maturity, they start living alone or in bachelor groups. They only associate with the family during mating season.
African forest elephants generally travel 8 km a day, and their seasonal movement is as per the availability of ripe fruits. They use a complex network of endless trails that pass through fruit trees and associate forest clearings with mineral licks.
Life Expectancy of African Forest Elephant
Usually, African forest elephant lives till the age of 70 years. But their life expectancy may sometimes reduce due to poaching, deforestation, and human-elephant conflict. African forest elephants are estimated to constitute up to one–third of the elephant population in the African continent. However, they are tough to observe due to the dense vegetation that makes up their habitat.
FAQs on African Forest Elephants
Q1. What are African Forest Elephants?
African forest elephants are a species of elephants found on the African continent. Broadly, there are two kinds of elephants in Africa. One is the African bush elephant (African savanna elephant), and the other is the African forest elephant.
Q2. Where are African Forest Elephants seen?
Usually, African forest elephants are seen in Gabon's forest, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia, and Ghana. They are also seen in the Congo Basin and West Africa.
Q3. What is the skin colour of African Forest Elephants?
The African forest elephant's skin colour is grey, and it converts from yellowish to red after wallowing. The African forest elephant is a magnificent animal that is found in the Congo Basin and West African regions of the African continent.
Q4. How are the tusks of African Forest Elephants?
African forest elephant tusks are straight and pointed downwards. Both male and female African forest elephants have tusks that develop from deciduous teeth called tushes. Unfortunately, these elephants are illegally poached for their ivory tusks, which are considered a prized possession.
Q5. What is the lifespan of African Forest Elephants?
Usually, African forest elephants live till the age of 70 years. But their life expectancy may sometimes reduce due to poaching, deforestation, and human-elephant conflict. Currently, this species of African forest elephant faces the threat of extinction.