The African forest elephant is one of two elephant subspecies on the African continent. Until recently, scientists thought they were the same species. But a later study revealed enough variation to warrant the status of a subspecies.
African forest elephants are slightly smaller than African elephants, but they are still one of the largest animals on earth today. Although the two species are very similar, the African forest elephant has rounder ears, straighter tusks, and more toenails than the African elephant.
African Forest Elephant Appearance
The African forest elephant is one of the largest known land mammals on Earth, with male African forest elephants reaching nearly 3 meters in height and females around 2.5 meters. The tusks of an African forest elephant can grow to nearly 1.5 meters in length and generally weigh between 50 and 100 pounds, which is roughly the same as a small adult human.
They are thinner, straighter, and shorter than the African elephant’s tusks. African forest elephants have four molar teeth, each weighing about 5.0 kg and about 12 inches long. They have large, rounded ears that are used for both hearings and keeping them cool.
African Forest Elephant Distribution
The African forest elephant lives mainly in central and southern Africa in nomadic herds that roam the forests and grasslands of Africa in search of food and search of water holes.
They are most commonly found in dense rainforests, where their smaller size allows them to move through dense vegetation more easily than the larger African elephant. African forest elephants are now threatened in much of their natural habitat mainly due to deforestation and climate change and have been pushed into smaller and smaller areas of their native lands.
African Forest Elephant Behavior
The African forest elephant primarily uses its immense tusks to dig roots into the ground and remove bark from trees. The African forest elephant also uses its tusks to defend against predators such as lions and to fight other male African forest elephants during the mating season.
Males are generally quite solitary, but females and they are young forms small family groups known as herds. This makes it easier to protect the most vulnerable offspring. African forest elephants communicate through a series of low-frequency calls that they can detect from a few miles away.
African Forest Elephant Reproduction
Female African forest elephants reach sexual maturity (able to reproduce) after 10-11 years, and male African forest elephants often do not reach sexual maturity until nearly 20 years. After a gestation period of up to 2 years, the female African forest elephant gives birth to only one calf (twins are known, but extremely rare).
The calf of the African forest elephant suckles for 2 years and will stay with the herd until it is old enough to support itself. It is at this point that the African forest elephant calf’s tusks will begin to grow.
African Forest Elephant Diet
The African forest elephant is a herbivorous animal, which means it eats only plants and other vegetation. They feed mainly on the leaves and fruits of low trees, herbs, and shrubs. However, the front pair of molars in the African forest elephant’s mouth wears out and falls apart, causing the rear pair to move forward and two new molars emerge at the back of the African forest elephant’s mouth.
African forest elephants have their teeth replaced six times during their lifetime, but by the time the African forest elephant is between 40 and 60 years old, the African forest elephant has no more teeth and will likely starve, which is sadly a common cause of death in the United States. African desert.
African Forest Elephant Predators
The African forest elephant has no true natural predators that threaten its survival, mainly due to the large size of the African forest elephant. However, it is not uncommon for large carnivores like lions and hyenas to choose a calf that has strayed from pride or an adult more vulnerable due to poor health or old age.
African forest elephants are quite docile animals and can be seen coexisting in the African wilderness with other large mammals and birds, relatively peacefully. Deforestation and therefore the loss of its natural habitat is one of the greatest threats to the African forest elephant, along with poaching.
African Forest Elephant Interesting Facts
The tusks of the African forest elephant are straight enough rather than curved to help them move more easily through the dense jungle. This, coupled with its pinkish tinge, made African Forest Elephant Tusk Ivory in high demand on the black market.
Despite the fact that African forest elephants can communicate with each other through a couple of miles of dense jungle, the sound they make is so low that humans cannot hear it. They are an essential tool in the propagation of seeds through African forests and are therefore vital for the functioning of their native ecosystems.
African Forest Elephant Relationship with Humans
Unfortunately, due to the growing external interest in Africa and its exotic wonders, the elephant population of African forests has suffered a devastating decline towards extinction. In 1989, a global ban on elephant ivory hunting came into effect, meaning that, fortunately, Africa’s forest elephant population has started to recover.
In 1980, there were about 380,000 African forest elephants, but due to the growing human population in their home countries, the number has dropped to 200,000. The deforestation of their habitats and the illegal hunting of African forest elephants for their ivory are also responsible for their recent demise.
African Forest Elephant Conservation Status
Today, although in some areas it is recovering slightly, elephant populations in African forests are still threatened by increasing levels of illegal poaching and habitat destruction.
Deforestation in African forest elephant territory means that African forest elephants lose both food and shelter, making them more vulnerable in the wild. African forest elephants are also constantly threatened by poachers who hunt the elephants for their ivory tusks. They are now listed as an endangered species.