African Forest Elephant

African Forest Elephant  Loxodonta cyclotis

Type of Animal:

Forests, floodplains, savanna, grasslands, plains, woodlands, marshes, swamps, river valleys, agricultural areas, shrubland, scrub forest, wetlands

W & C Africa

Smaller than larger & more famous African Bush Elephant & smaller than most Asian Elephants. Gray to gray-brown skin, bulls larger than cows, both sexes have straight tusks pointing downwards, oval-shaped ears, long trunk

Roots, grasses, fruit, bark, leaves, herbs, trees, salt minerals, seeds, twigs, legumes, grains, nuts, wood, stems

Status in Wild:
Critically Endangered

Bans on hunting in much of range, tougher measures in tackling illegal trade of ivory

Family herds led by dominant oldest cow (matriarch) as well as 2-7 related cows, calves, & juveniles plus a few sub-adult bulls under age of 10. Sometimes a few family herds aggregate leading to clans of up to 30 elephants. Young bulls leave family between 8 & 12 years while cows stay w/ family for life. Bulls solitary or in small bachelor herds of 2-7 animals.

Additional Info:

Male: Bull
Female: Cow
Young: Calf
Group: Herd
Male: 4-5 tons
Female: 2-2.5 tons
Young: 900-1,000 lbs

Up to 2 years 

Life Span:
50-70 years

Male: 7.9-9.8 ft
Female: 5.9-7.9 ft
Young: 3.5 ft
Body Length:
Male: 10-11 ft
Female: 7-10 ft

Tail Length:
3-4 ft, same for both sexes

Lions, crocodiles, & hyenas sometimes take adult cows but prefer juveniles & calves. Leopards & wild dogs prey on calves.
Critically endangered due to hunting for ivory/meat/skin, habitat loss, deforestation, persecution as crop pests, civil unrest, & agriculture.
Considered separate species from African Bush/Savanna Elephant.
1st scientific description of this species published in 1900.
Called mega-gardener of forest due to large size & seed dispersal habits.
Since they don’t have good eyesight, most important senses are hearing & smell.
Cows sexually mature at 8 years, bulls at 10 years.
Fights one of most common causes of death among bulls.
A few years after reaching sexual maturity, bulls go into 1st musth (hormonal state marked by increased aggression). Bull secretes fluid from temporal gland between eye & ear & often rub head on trees/bushes to spread scent. They’re extremely aggressive & dangerous at this time.
Extremely rare in captivity, w/ only few institutions holding them & much of them may be hybridized w/ bush elephants.
Feet are quite sensitive, able to detect vibrations through ground.

Fun Fact(s):
Some people believe elephants never forget.
Trunk has multiple purposes, such as smelling, grabbing things, drinking, breathing, trumpeting, & snorkeling.
Much more secretive than larger cousins though cows extremely protective of calves & bulls in musth highly dangerous. People have been trampled defending land from hungry elephants.

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