Animals >>

African Forest Elephant

Young, African bull elephant, Kruger National Park, South Africa.African elephant (Loxodonta africana) in TanzaniaAfrican Elephant in South AfricaAfrican Elephant in KenyaFemale African Bush elephant (also called the Savannah elephant)
[Jump to Article]

African Forest Elephant Facts

Five groups that classify all living things
A group of animals within the animal kingdom
A group of animals within a pylum
A group of animals within a class
A group of animals within an order
A group of animals within a family
Scientific Name:
The name of the animal in science
Loxodonta cyclotis
Common Name:
Most widely used name for this species
African Forest Elephant
Other Name(s):
Different names for this animal
African Elephant
The domestic group such as cat or dog
Number Of Species:
The total number of recorded species
The place where something is found
central and southern Africa
The specific area where the animal lives
Forest, savannah and flood plains
The colour of the animal's coat or markings
Grey, Brown
Skin Type:
The protective layer of the animal
Size (H):
How long (L) or tall (H) the animal is
2m - 3m (6.6ft - 9.8ft)
The measurement of how heavy the animal is
900kg - 3,000kg (1,984lbs - 6,613lbs)
Top Speed:
The fastest recorded speed of the animal
39km/h (24mph)
What kind of foods the animal eats
The food that the animal gains energy from
Grass, Fruit, Roots
Other animals that hunt and eat the animal
Human, Lion, Hyena
Whether the animal is solitary or sociable
Group Behaviour:
How the animal behaves in a group
How long the animal lives for
60 - 70 years
Age Of Sexual Maturity:
When the animal can produce offspring
11 - 20 years
Gestation Period:
The time from conception to birth
22 - 24 months
Average Litter Size:
The average number of babies born at once
Name Of Young:
The name given to the offspring
Age Of Weaning:
The age when the mother stops providing milk for her young
5 years
Conservation Status:
The likelihood of the animal becoming extinct
Estimated Population Size:
How many of this animal are thought to exist
Biggest Threat:
The largest danger to this animal
Poaching and habitat loss
Most Distinctive Feature:
Characteristics unique to this animal
Rounded ears and thin, straight tusks
Fun Fact:
An exciting thing about this animal
The largest known mammal on land!

Join AZ Animals FREE to get amazing animal facts, printable animal activities, and much more sent directly to you.

African Forest Elephant Location

Map of African Forest Elephant Locations
Map of Africa

African Forest Elephant

African Forest Elephant Classification and Evolution

The African Forest Elephant is one of two Elephant subspecies found on the African continent. Although the African Forest Elephant is slightly smaller than the African Bush Elephant, it is still one of the largest animals found on land today. Although these two Elephant species are very similar, the African Forest Elephant is thought to have rounder ears and straighter tusks than the African Bush Elephant, and it has been also noted that the African Bush Elephant and the African Forest Elephant have a different number of toe nails. Until recently though, they were considered to be the same species.

African Forest Elephant Anatomy and Appearance

The African Forest Elephant is the one of the largest known land mammals on Earth, with male African Forest Elephants reaching nearly 3 metres in height and the female African Forest Elephants around 2.5 metres. The tusks of an African Forest Elephant can grow to nearly 1.5 meters long and generally weigh between 50 and 100 pounds, which is about the same as a small adult Human. They are thinner, straighter and shorter than the tusks of the African Bush Elephant. African Forest Elephants have four molar teeth each weighing about 5.0 kg and measuring about 12 inches long. They have large rounded ears which are used both for hearing and to keep them cool.

African Forest Elephant Distribution and Habitat

The African Forest Elephant mainly lives in central and southern Africa in nomadic herds that wander through the forests and grasslands of Africa grazing for food and searching for waterholes. They are most commonly founds in the tropical dense jungles, where their smaller size allows them to move through the thick vegetation more easily than the larger African Bush Elephant. African Forest Elephants are threatened throughout much of their natural habitat today mainly due to deforestation and climate change and have been pushed into smaller and smaller pockets of their native lands.

African Forest Elephant Behaviour and Lifestyle

The African Forest Elephant mainly uses its immense tusks for digging for roots in the ground and to strip the bark off trees. The African Forest Elephant also uses its tusks to defend itself from predators such as Lions, and to fight with other male African Forest Elephants during the mating season. Males are generally fairly solitary but females and their young form small family groups known as herds. This allows the more vulnerable offspring to be more easily protected. African Forest Elephants communicate through a series of low-frequency calls which they are able to detect from a few kilometres away.

African Forest Elephant Reproduction and Life Cycles

Female African Forest Elephants reach sexual maturity (are able to reproduce) after 10 or 11 years, and male African Forest Elephants often don't reach sexual maturity until they are nearly 20 years old. After a gestation period of up to 2 years, the female African Forest Elephant gives birth to a single calf (twins have been known but are extremely rare). The African Forest Elephant calf is nursed for 2 years and will remain with the herd until it is old enough to support itself. It is at this point that the tusks of the African Forest Elephant calf will be starting to grow.

African Forest Elephant Diet and Prey

The African Forest Elephant is a herbivorous animal meaning that it only eats plants and other vegetation. They predominantly eat leaves and fruit from trees, herbs and low-lying shrubs. However, the front pair of molars in the mouth of the African Forest Elephant wear down and drop out in pieces, making the back pair shift forward and two new molars emerge in the back of the African Forest Elephant's mouth. African Forest Elephants replace their teeth six times during their lives but when the African Forest Elephant is about 40 to 60 years old, the African Forest Elephant no longer has teeth and will likely die of starvation, which is sadly a common cause of death in the African wilderness.

African Forest Elephant Predators and Threats

The African Forest Elephant has no real natural predators to threaten its survival, mainly due to the African forest elephant's sheer size. However, it is not uncommon for large carnivores such as Lions and Hyenas to pick out a calf that has strayed from the herd or an adult that is more vulnerable from ill health or old age. African Forest Elephants are fairly docile animals and can be seen co-inhabiting in the African wilderness with other large mammals and birds, relatively peacefully. Deforestation and therefore loss of its natural habitat is one of the biggest threats to the African Forest Elephant, along with poaching.

African Forest Elephant Interesting Facts and Features

The tusks of the African Forest Elephant are pretty straight instead of curved to help them move through the thick jungle with greater ease. This, along with their pinkish tinge, has made the ivory of the African Forest Elephant's tusks in high demand on the black market. Despite African Forest Elephants being able to communicate with one another through a couple of miles of dense jungle, the sound they make is so low that it cannot be heard by Humans. They are an essential tool in the spreading of seeds throughout Africa's forests and are therefore vital to the running of their native eco-systems.

African Forest Elephant Relationship with Humans

Sadly, due to an increase of outside interest in Africa and its exotic wonders, the African Forest Elephant population took a devastating decline towards extinction. In 1989 a worldwide Elephant ivory hunting ban fell into place, meaning that the African Forest Elephant population has fortunately begun to recover. In 1980, there were an estimated 380,000 African Forest Elephants but due to growing Human populations in their native countries, numbers have fallen to 200,000. Deforestation of their habitats and the illegal poaching of the African Forest Elephant for their ivory are also to blame for their recent demise.

African Forest Elephant Conservation Status and Life Today

Today, although slightly recovering in certain areas, African Forest Elephant populations are still threatened from increasing levels of illegal poaching and habitat destruction. Deforestation in the African Forest Elephant's territory means that the African Forest Elephants lose both their food and shelter making them more vulnerable in the wild. African Forest Elephants are also constantly threatened by poachers hunting the Elephants for their ivory tusks. They are now listed as an Endangered species.

View all 53 animals that start with A.

African Forest Elephant Translations

български език
Африкански горски слон
Elefant africà de bosc
Slon pralesní
Afrikansk skovelefant
African Forest Elephant
Loxodonta cyclotis
Éléphant de forêt d\'Afrique
פיל יער אפריקני
Šumski slon
Erdei elefánt
Loxodonta cyclotis
Afrikansk skogselefant
Słoń afrykański leśny
Afriški gozdni slon

Article Tools

Print Article
View printer friendly version of African Forest Elephant article.
Source/Reference Article
Learn how you can use or cite the African Forest Elephant article in your website content, school work and other projects.

First Published: 10th November 2008, Last Updated: 20th October 2019

1. African Forest Elephant Classification, Available at: [Accessed at: 10 Nov 2008]
2. African Forest Elephant Conservation, Available at: [Accessed at: 10 Nov 2008]
3. African Forest Elephant Habitat, Available at: [Accessed at: 10 Nov 2008]
4. African Forest Elephant Information, Available at: [Accessed at: 10 Nov 2008]
5. African Forest Elephant Threats, Available at: [Accessed at: 10 Nov 2008]
6. David Burnie, Dorling Kindersley (2008) Illustrated Encyclopedia Of Animals [Accessed at: 10 Nov 2008]
7. David Burnie, Kingfisher (2011) The Kingfisher Animal Encyclopedia [Accessed at: 01 Jan 2011]
8. David W. Macdonald, Oxford University Press (2010) The Encyclopedia Of Mammals [Accessed at: 01 Jan 2010]
9. Dorling Kindersley (2006) Dorling Kindersley Encyclopedia Of Animals [Accessed at: 10 Nov 2008]
10. Richard Mackay, University of California Press (2009) The Atlas Of Endangered Species [Accessed at: 01 Jan 2009]
11. Tom Jackson, Lorenz Books (2007) The World Encyclopedia Of Animals [Accessed at: 10 Nov 2008]