This critically endangered ‘gardener’ of the forest has been ‘red listed’ independent of its famous savanna relative for the first time. It’s time to take its plight seriously
Science and conservation politics have finally agreed that Africa is home to two elephant species: the savanna and forest elephant. The debate lasted about two decades, with the politics of elephant conservation and the ivory trade delaying the decision, but the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has finally concluded its evaluation.
Africa’s most recognisable pachyderm is the savanna elephant, Loxodonta africana, the largest land mammal, reaching up to 4 metres at the shoulder. Their huge ears are the shape of the African continent. Their majesty, combined with the open habitat they roam, means that virtually every elephant photo we see is of the savanna species. One of my first memories is of a big savanna bull in the water above Murchison Falls in Uganda where I grew up. No African safari is complete without an elephant encounter.