When you think about Africa, you probably picture the grassy but sometimes dry savannas. More often than not, Africa’s lushes rainforests get overlooked. It is home to 18 percent of the world’s tropical forests and African rainforest animals that need to be protected. That is why our African forest elephant research team wants to raise awareness about some of the endangered and critically endangered species that habitat these forests.
Four African rainforest animals
In the treetops of the central African rainforest, you can find chimpanzees. These animals are part of the great ape family and are considered to be one of the closest relatives to humans. Some of the physical traits of chimpanzees are their short legs, no tails and long arms.
These characteristics come in handy when you spend most of your time traveling from treetop to treetop. Sadly due to deforestation, chimpanzees' population numbers are decreasing. They are now listed as endangered, with an estimated 300,000 chimpanzees left in the world.
In the low and high regions of Africa’s rainforests, you can find gorillas. There are several species and subspecies of gorillas. These animals are considered the largest out of the great apes. Gorillas can grow to be four to six feet tall when standing on their two feet and weigh as much as 440 pounds.
Although these animals are huge, gorillas are considered to be gentle giants. However, throughout the years, their population numbers have been decreasing. Gorillas are currently listed as endangered due to hunting, wildlife trade, disease and habitat loss.
One of the most unique and unusual creatures that can be found in Africa’s rainforests are okapis. These animals were unknown to the world until 1901, when they were discovered. What made them go unnoticed for so long? Okapis live quietly in the rainforests.
They are mammals with dark fur and striped legs. Although they resemble zebras, these animals are more related to giraffes. As interesting as okapi are, they are currently endangered. Habitat loss and poaching for their meat have put them on this list.
African forest elephants
The African forest elephant is smaller in size than the African savanna elephant. The male elephant (bull) stands at an average height of 7.9 to 9.8 feet, while the female elephant (cow) is an average of 5.9 to 7.9 feet.
These elephants prefer to live in the dense tropical forests. They can be found in Gabon’s forests, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Cameroon, Central African Republic, Liberia and Ghana. African forest elephant research teams use dung counts to estimate population numbers.
Sadly, these elephants have landed on the critically endangered list due to deforestation, poaching, and human-elephant conflicts. It is estimated that forest elephant numbers have decreased by 86 percent between 1984 and 2015.
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