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Elephants: African Forest Elephant

© written by Tasha Guenther

Male forest elephant at Langoue Bai, Ivindo National Park, Gabon.
Photographer: Peter H. Wrege; License CC BY-SA 3.0

Elephants are primarily split into two different types, the African elephant and the Asian elephant. African elephants, however, are the largest living land animals.

Due to poaching, the African Elephant population is widely dwindling--poaching leaves some elephant populations in Africa endangered, while some populations (mainly in eastern and southern regions) are stable and expanding.

There are two sub-species of African elephants, the African bush elephant and the African forest elephant.

The African forest elephant, also known as the forest elephant (Loxodonta cyclotis) is quite a bit smaller than its African relative, the bush elephant. However, the largest of these male elephants can weigh anywhere up to 13,000 pounds!

To differentiate the African forest elephant from other elephant species, it is important to remember that the African forest elephant is recognizable by its large, straight, pink-colored tusks. These types of tusks are just perfect for travelling through the thick forest trees! Unfortunately, because these tusks are so cool, poachers hunt forest elephants just to have them! This type of activity is illegal, and though it has been stopped in some areas of Africa, populations of forest elephants are still threatened by this type of illegal hunting.

Since both males and females have tusks, it is very difficult to tell whether one of these elephants is a boy or girl just by looking at it. Instead, scientists must observe an elephant's behaviour in order to tell whether it is a male or female!

The African forest elephant lives throughout the forested regions of the African continent--in other words, it can be found in the grassy plains and tropical jungles of Africa, especially in the central and southern countries.