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African Forest Elephant

African Forest Elephant
Photographer: Thomas Breuer

African Forest Elephant Range Map (West & Central Africa)
African Forest Elephant Range Map
(West & Central Africa)

Latin Name Loxodonta cyclotis
Conservation Status Endangered
Location West & Central Africa
Colour Grey
Length 3 - 4 m (9.75 - 13 ft)
Tail 50 - 120 cm (2.5 - 4 ft)
Weight 0.9 - 3 tonnes (0.88 - 3 tons)
Life Expectancy

55 - 60 Yrs (Wild)
Up to 80 Yrs (in Captivity)

Main Characteristics

African Forest Elephants have a body length between 3 and 4 m (9.75 - 13 ft), a tail length between 50 and 120 cms (2.3 - 4 ft) and they weigh between 0.9 and 3 tonnes (0.88 - 3 tons).

They are grey in colour and they have a sparse covering of hair. Their large ears are rounded and they have straight, downward pointing, yellowish tusks. On their forefeet they have five toes and on their hind feet they have four.

They communicate with each other using low calls that can be heard by other elephants through several kilometers of dense jungle, but these sounds are too low to be detected by humans.


African Forest Elephants are found in the dense, lowland jungle of west and central Africa. Males are generally solitary and females live in small groups with one or two of their offspring.

Throughout their range there are networks of trails that have been created over many years and these trails link favourite feeding areas.


African Forest Elephants feed on grass, leaves, bark, fruit and other vegetation. They require an intake of water daily and can consume up to 50 gallons per day.

They gather in large groups in clearings in the forest known as "bais". At the bais they are able to obtain mineral salts by digging down into the soil.


African Forest Elephants breed at any time of the year but a female will only reproduce every 4 years. Females are only receptive for 3 - 6 days and when she is ready she will emit a low growl that can be heard for several kilometers.

After a gestation period of 22 months, a single calf will be born. The calf will eat solid foods from about 6 months old, but it will continue to feed on its mothers milk until is it approximately 5 years old.

Female African Forest Elephants remain fertile until they are approximately 60 years of age.


Humans are the main predators of African Forest Elephants.


Subspecies of the African Forest Elephant include:

Pygmy Elephant
(Loxodonta cyclotis pumilio)
They are found from Sierra Leone to the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Interesting Facts

The tusks of African Forest Elephants are more highly prized by poachers than those of the african elephant or the asian elephant as the ivory is harder whilst still retaining its elastic properties.

Similar Animals

African Elephant
Asian Elephant


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