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The African Forest elephant, Loxodonta cyclotis, is the smallest of the three living elephant species, reaching a shoulder height of only 2.4 meters. Distinguishable for their straight tusks that point downward, these peaceful giants are now considered vulnerable by the IUCN.
See the fact file below for more information on the African Forest Elephant or alternatively, you can download our 21-page African Forest Elephant worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
- Loxodonte, which points out its lozenge-shaped molar teeth enamel, was the generic name for African elephants, introduced by French naturalist and zoologist Georges Cuvier in 1824.
- In 1900, German zoologist Paul Matschie suggested Elephas (Loxodonta) cyclotis as the African Forest elephant’s scientific name.
- The ancestors of the African Bush elephants became extinct during the Pleistocene Epoch. Currently, there are only three species of elephants left: Asian elephant (Elephas maximus), African Forest elephant (Loxodonta cyclotis), and African Bush elephant (Loxodonta africana).
- Bulls reach a shoulder height of 2.4 to 3.0 meters (7.9 to 9.8 feet,while females are around 1.8 to 2.4 meters (5.9 to 7.9 feet) tall. African Forest elephants weigh 2 to 4 tonnes and have footprint sizes at 12.5 to 35.3 centimeters (4.9 to 13.9 inches).
- They have grey skin which appears yellow to reddish after rolling its body in the mud (wallowing). Their bodies are covered with black, rough hair, usually 20 to 200 mm (0.8 to 8 in) in length.
- Their ears are more oval-shaped compared to the Asian elephants which look like the shape of India. These huge flaps are not just for hearing, but are also used to keep them cool in the African heat.
- Heads of the Forest elephant are slightly smaller than the Savannah elephants which have fuller and more rounded single dome heads.
- They are also distinct for their straight tusks that point downward, and the amount of nails they have on each foot: five on front feet and four on hind feet.
- Their trunks are an elongation of their upper lip and nose, resulting to a two finger-like tip. Their pink tusks, made of dentin, are thinner and harder compared to the African Bush elephant, and grow from deciduous teeth called tushes, that form in the upper jaw of the elephant.
- Their tusks are about 1.5 m (5 ft) long and can weigh between 50 to 100 lbs (23 to 45 kg). Tusks of male Forest elephants grow until they mature, while tusks of females stop growing when they reach sexual maturity.
- African Forest elephants are incredibly sociable mammals. They usually gather by family herds comprising of 10 females with their offspring. This behavior of mothers looking after their calves together is called allomothering. They do not want to stay in one area, and are continuously looking for food.
- Their trunks are flexible enough to help them gather and handle food, and collect water. Along with their tusks, they also use their trunks to protect themselves from their natural predators, and to fight with other male Savannah elephants when they are trying to find potential mates.
- African Forest elephants are also highly intelligent. They are considered as emotional mammals, showing traits such as giving and receiving love, attending to the needs of their young, and grieving for the loss of their relatives.
- Their tough skin is highly sensitive to ultraviolet rays, thus, they use mud as sunscreen. These elephants love mud baths which protect them from burning and insect bites, and gives them enough moisture.
- These elephants are an arrhythmic species – they have clear vision in dim light. They also have the ability to detect vibrations in the ground because of their sensitive feet.
HABITAT AND DIET
- African Forest elephants are mostly found in lowland tropical and subtropical rainforests and woodlands of central and western Africa, including Gabon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Cameroon and Central African Republic, Liberia, and Ghana.
- They are herbivorous mammals that feed on plants and plant matter.
- Their diet consists of leaves and fallen branches of trees, fruits and grasses, and even roots underground.
- Their front pair of molars wear down and drop out in pieces, causing the back pair to move forward and two new molars emerge in the back of its mouth.
- Forest elephants crave salt. Aside from their usual diet, they also visit salt, or mineral licks, and even eat soil.
- These peaceful giants have no natural predators due to their huge size.
- Lions and hyenas may sometimes pick off young African Bush elephants that are away from its mother, and even old and sick adults that are too vulnerable to attack.
- Adult African Bush elephants can drink about 50 gallons of water a day, with 1.5 gallons of water into their trunks at a time.
- African Forest elephants are expected to live between 60 to 70 years.
- Of all the three elephant species, Forest elephants have the slowest reproductive rate. They sexually mature at the age of 23, with an average gestation period of about two years.
- Females are able to reproduce between the age of 8 and 12 years. They start breeding at the age of 23, and give birth every 5 to 6 years, resulting in a lower birth rate than the Bush elephants.
- Baby elephants weigh 232 lbs (105 kg) when they are born. Their tusks grow when they reach around 16 months.
- Calves stay with their herd for a few years for protection and guidance, until they are six years old – old enough to support and protect themselves.
- Habitat loss and humans that poach their ivory tusks are the biggest threats to their survival.
- The IUCN lists African Bush elephants as vulnerable.
- African Forest elephants play a vital part in maintaining the lowland tropical and subtropical rainforests and woodlands ecosystems, and in helping plants and animals survive.
African Forest Elephant Worksheets
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about the African Forest Elephant across 21 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use African Forest Elephant worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about the African Forest elephant, Loxodonta cyclotis, which is the smallest of the three living elephant species, reaching a shoulder height of only 2.4 meters. Distinguishable for their straight tusks that point downward, these peaceful giants are now considered vulnerable by the IUCN.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- African Forest Elephant Facts
- Giants of the Lowlands
- An Elephant’s Anatomy
- More About These Elephants
- Take a Guess
- More Elephant Facts
- African and Asian
- African Animals
- Code Red
- An Elephant Tale
- Elephant Conservation
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Link will appear as African Forest Elephant Facts & Worksheets: https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, January 22, 2020
Use With Any Curriculum
These worksheets have been specifically designed for use with any international curriculum. You can use these worksheets as-is, or edit them using Google Slides to make them more specific to your own student ability levels and curriculum standards.