African Forest elephants
There are three species of elephant, the African savanna elephant, African forest elephant and the Asian elephant.
With the African species, Forest elephants have declined 86% between 1986 and 2015, African Bush elephants declined 60% 1965 and 2015 leaving just over 400,000. African forest elephants are thought to number between 100,000 and 150,000.
Perhaps the most scary fact is that the African forest elephant was only declared as a separate species in 2021 only 2 years ago. These species are not particularly similar – indeed the Asian elephant is more genetically similar to the mammoth, than the African savannah elephant is to the African forest elephant!
The African forest elephants population has declined precipitably in the last few years. Given the recognition that the forest elephant is a separate species only came 2 years ago, it is hard to get accurate historic figures. Never-the-less, the combined african elephant species population was thought to be around 26 million in 1800, and 1.34 million in 1976. The estimate is currently around 100-200,000 forest elephants. One of the problems, is that the African forest elephant is an essential part of the ecosystem. There are many trees, which rely on forest elephants to carry their seeds through the forest, so that they germinate a good distance from the original plant (more than a few of the same plant in the same area, causes the pest that feeds on the tree to multiply to the point where it can kill the tree. While it is true that other animals like gorillas and chimpanzees can do this, they do it far less. Should the forest elephant be lost, the African rainforest is likely to be far less capable of of handling the various changes, like climate change that is coming.
The last strongholds are in Gabon (a survey last year suggested Gabon has 95,000 forest elephants, rather than the 60,000 that was originally thought) and the Republic of the Congo and Democratic republic of the Cong, with smaller populations remaining in other African countries (Cameroon, Central African Republic, Equatorial Guinea) and Cote d’Ivoire, Liberia and Ghana in west Africa. There is much space for forest elephants to greatly recover, if the poaching is able to stop.