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African Forest Elephant

African Forest Elephant Facts

Size Up to 9.3 ft (2.86 m)
Speed Up to 24 mph (39 km/h)
Weight Up to 4 tons
Lifespan 60-70 years
Food Plants, fruits, roots
Predators Leopards
Habitat African rain forests
Order Proboscidea
Family Elephantidae
Scientific name Loxodonta cyclotis
Characteristics Trunk, tusks, small ears

Main Characteristics

In addition to the African elephant and the Asian elephant there exists a third elephant species: the African forest elephant. It is the smallest species of them all.

The Differences Between African and African Forest Elephants

1. Forest Elephants Are an Unique Species

Both elephant species live in Africa and are closely related to each other. Yet, the African forest elephant is not the “smaller brother” of the tall African elephant. It is a unique species, which has developed differently from the African elephant during the last three to five million years.

2. Forest Elephants Live In a Different Habitat

While the African elephant lives in steppes and savannahs, the African forest elephant prefers the dense tropical jungle in Central Africa, in the Congo and in Uganda. Therefore it is significantly smaller, because it would be difficult for a tall elephant to move around in dense forests.

3. Forest Elephants Have a Different Appearance

Mini Elephants with Mini Tusks and Mini Ears. The tusks of African forest elephants are straighter and less curved. If you compare them to those of African and Indian elephants, the tusks of African forest elephants appear like tooth picks. Yet, the tusks of older elephants can be so long that they touch the ground. The ears are round or oval – very cute!

African Forest Elephant African Forest Elephant - Photo: Sergey Uryadnikov/Shutterstock

Enemies and Threats

Do Forest Elephants Have Enemies?

The forest elephant's habitat is different to the habitat of leopards, hyenas and lions. While these live mostly in open savannas and steppes, its home is the forest. For the forest elephant, the biggest threat is man - beacuse of poaching, deforestation of tropical rainforests, road construction and hunting ("bushmeat" as a food source).

African Forest Elephant African Forest Elephant - Photo: Sergey Uryadnikov/Shutterstock

Importance to the Ecosystem

African Forest elephants do not only feed on leaves but also on seeds. They spread them on the forest ground and thus help many plants to grow.

African Forest Elephant African Forest Elephant - Photo: Sergey Uryadnikov/Shutterstock

Fun Facts

How to Count African Forest Elephants

In the dense forest it is not easy to count animals, so scientists simply count their turds and estimate the number of animals.

Dwarf Elephants

Although the African forest elephant is rather small compared to other species, there is still one species that is even smaller: the African pygmy elephant. It has a shoulder height of only 6.5 feet (2 meters) just like a tall horse. It is, however, controversial. They might just be little African forest elephants.

African Forest Elephant African Forest Elephant - Photo: Sergey Uryadnikov/Shutterstock

The Forest Elephant Is Related To:

Animals in the Same Biome:

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