Do you know how many kinds of elephants there are? There are two kinds of elephant species: African elephants and Asian elephants.
Most people do not know that there are two kinds of African elephant species- the African bush elephant and the African forest elephant.
Both of these elephants might look similar, but they are considered to be different. Here is how both African elephant species differ and whether they are considered the same species.
African Bush Elephants
The African bush elephant is the largest kind of elephant. It stands at 13-feet in height and 24-feet in length. This enormous mammal lives in African Savannahs (also known as Savanna.) These lands are a vegetation that grows under hot and dry climates. Savannahs have tall grasses and scattered trees.
Since they live in Savannahs, the African bush elephant diet consists of more grasses. Aside from their large size, African bush elephants differ in their tusks. They have more curve outward tusks than the African forest elephants. Another distinct feature of African bush elephants is their herds. These elephants live in herds of four to 14 elephants.
African Forest Elephants
The African forest elephants are slightly smaller in size compared to the African bush elephant. They stand at 8 to 10 feet tall. These elephants live in the rainforest of West and Central Africa.
Since these elephants live in the forests, they eat more browse, tree leaves and fruits. You can distinguish an African forest elephant by their oval-shaped ears and straighter tusks. Plus, these kinds of elephants live in smaller herds, and the bulls (male elephants) typically live alone.
Are African bush elephants and African forest elephants the same?
There has been a lot of debate over whether these two elephants are the same. Recent research has found that these two elephants are genetically distinct from one another. Scientists have found the two African elephant species evolved from a common ancestor somewhere between two and five million years ago.
The threats of African bush elephants and African forest elephants
Over the years, African elephant research has found that both populations of African bush elephants and African forest elephants have diminished. They are both currently listed as vulnerable species. This means they are not endangered, but if conditions are not changed, they can be.
Currently, both elephants are threatened by poaching, deforestation, loss of habitat and conflicts with humans. Although there is an ivory ban, poaching still occurs for both kinds of African elephants. The World Wildlife Fund states that there are just 415,000 African elephants left in the wild.
Deforestation and habitat loss have left many African elephants to lose their homes and food sources. That causes conflict between African elephants and humans. Elephants might raid farmers' fields and damage the crops.
This leaves farmers without produce and the chances of a human or elephant getting killed. As human populations start to grow, new elephant conservation strategies need to be placed to keep both humans and elephants safe.
How to save both kinds of African elephants
There is still a chance to help save elephants from extinction. At For Elephants, we are partnered with Elephants Alive to research the best conservation strategies to keep elephants alive for many more years. You can help save the elephants by donating to our African elephant research. Donate now or purchase a t-shirt to spread awareness!