The African Forest Elephant is one of two Elephant subspecies found on the African continent. Although the African Forest Elephant is slightly smaller than the African Bush Elephant, it is still one of the largest animals found on land today. Although these two Elephant species are very similar, the African Forest Elephant is thought to have rounder ears and straighter tusks than the African Bush Elephant, and it has been also noted that the African Bush Elephant and the African Forest Elephant have a different number of toe nails. Until recently though, they were considered to be the same species.
African Forest Elephant Anatomy and Appearance
The African Forest Elephant is the one of the largest known land mammals on Earth, with male African Forest Elephants reaching nearly 3 metres in height and the female African Forest Elephants around 2.5 metres. The tusks of an African Forest Elephant can grow to nearly 1.5 meters long and generally weigh between 50 and 100 pounds, which is about the same as a small adult Human. They are thinner, straighter and shorter than the tusks of the African Bush Elephant. African Forest Elephants have four molar teeth each weighing about 5.0 kg and measuring about 12 inches long. They have large rounded ears which are used both for hearing and to keep them cool.
African Forest Elephant Distribution and Habitat
The African Forest Elephant mainly lives in central and southern Africa in nomadic herds that wander through the forests and grasslands of Africa grazing for food and searching for waterholes. They are most commonly founds in the tropical dense jungles, where their smaller size allows them to move through the thick vegetation more easily than the larger African Bush Elephant. African Forest Elephants are threatened throughout much of their natural habitat today mainly due to deforestation and climate change and have been pushed into smaller and smaller pockets of their native lands.
African Forest Elephant Behaviour and Lifestyle
The African Forest Elephant mainly uses its immense tusks for digging for roots in the ground and to strip the bark off trees. The African Forest Elephant also uses its tusks to defend itself from predators such as Lions, and to fight with other male African Forest Elephants during the mating season. Males are generally fairly solitary but females and their young form small family groups known as herds. This allows the more vulnerable offspring to be more easily protected. African Forest Elephants communicate through a series of low-frequency calls which they are able to detect from a few kilometres away.