Despite only relatively recently being defined as a separate species forest elephants are rapidly disappearing and this could have incredible impacts on the rain forest where they live

It was only in 2010 the forest elephants were conclusively shown to be a separate species. Indeed up until this point it had been assumed that they were just different because they lived in different places but we’re essentially the same species. Turns out the genomes diverged between 2 and 3 million years ago,an African forest elephants and more closely related to the mammoth than their Savannah cousins.

Unfortunately due to the asymmetric deforestation within Africa, at the point of this discovery a small number of countries had the majority of the responsibility for conserving them into the future. One of these countries was Gabon, west African country that still has much of its rain forest intact.

Specializing in low number high cost tourism there was a hope that Gabon could succeed here. Unfortunately at the same point, the horrific ivory poaching was getting going at unsustainable levels again. 

As the Eastern and Southern African countries got the poaching back under control, the target was switched to the forest elephants of west Africa (in some ways as they have straighter tusks these are worth more anyway).

Unfortunately in the intervening years Gabon has lost anywhere between 40 and 80% of its wild forest elephant population. They hosted a significant portion of the entire species remaining population, this is bad news for it’s future conservation.

We need to halt a loss of elephants from the African forests, they are integral to the future survival of the entire ecosystem. One of the reasons that in rain forest you don’t get groves of the same species of trees, is because if this ever happens insect that damages the tree does too well in the area and can end up killing the trees. This is how you can end up with each acre in an African forest containing hundreds of different species of tree despite the small area.

Now in theory that’s a fantastic thing, however in practice there are some problems. Generally tree seeds fall into two categories: Either they are light and are blown on the wind, all they are heavy and relying on animals eating them and then dispersing the seeds with a nice dose of fertilizer. However this is the problem, you remove the seed dispersal, you can end up with mass die off.

Indeed the loss of forest elephants from African rain forest may lead to the collapse of them,and many incredible damages that this will cause to the weather and ecosystem of Africa.

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