FOREST ELEPHANT – Loxodonta cyclotis

FOREST ELEPHANT

Forest elephant facts: Forest elephants weigh 2.2 to 4.4 tons (2 to 4 metric tons), with a shoulder height of 6 to 9.8 feet (1.8 to 3 meters). Compared to the savanna elephant, it is smaller physically. Their heads are not as high as the Asian species, nor as large as the savanna elephant, and it has just a single dome. Forest elephant ears are rounded and fold back at the top. The trunk has two fingers on its end. Both sexes have tusks, but the female’s tusks are smaller. The ivory is long and thin, straight with a pinkish hue to it. It is a harder material than the ivory of the savanna elephant.

Geographic range: The forest elephant is thinly scattered throughout West Africa but has substantial populations in Central African rainforests.

Forest elephant habitat: Forest elephants must live near water, and in areas with varied vegetation.

What does forest elephant eat: Adults consume 220 to 660 pounds (100 to 300 kilograms) of plant food daily, which they chew with their molars. Forest elephants drink up to 53 gallons (200 liters) of water each day.

Behavior and reproduction: Similar to the savanna elephants, a female cow signals her readiness to mate by making loud sounds through her trunk, and has a special courtship walk, in which she holds her head high while looking back over her shoulder. Gestation period lasts twenty-two months. Newborns weigh 265 pounds (120 kilograms). Males are competitive and solitary. Forest elephants live in a matriarchal society of family units within the larger social structure, though group size is much smaller for forest elephants than for the savanna elephants. Females remain bonded for life.

Forest elephants and people: African elephants are rarely domesticated. Their numbers have been reduced by hunting for ivory and meat as well as by loss of habitat due to logging.

Conservation status: Because the forest elephant was not recognized as a species separate from the African savanna elephant until 2001, both species are still considered together in legal terms. Excessive hunting and habitat loss has caused the African elephant to be listed as Endangered, by the IUCN.