Facts & Figures

 Facts on Ivory Trade:

Ivory Trade Restrictions and Elephant Populations – Timeline 1979 – 2017

Genetic analysis shakes up elephant family tree, raising conservation issues:

http://animals.howstuffworks.com/mammals/elephant-family-tree-dna-analysis-species.htm

 Statistics 

In a single decade between 1979 and 1989, half of all Africa’s elephants were lost to the ivory trade, according to pan African census conducted by STE’s Iain Douglas-Hamilton. Amid public outrage over the crisis, in 1989 Kenya burned her stockpile of ivory in protest at the trade and the world’s international wildlife trade body CITES banned all international trade in elephant tusks.

For the next decade the trade lay dormant and African elephant populations began to recover. By 2007 it was estimated to be between 470,000 and 690,000 (Blanc et al. 2007). But a new crisis was brewing, fuelled by demand for ivory particularly in China where a demographic and economic boom had taken place.

The forests of Central Africa are the hardest place to study or protect elephants, but it seems they were the first to be hit by the new wave of killing that resulted from this new demand. Between 2002 and 2011 Maisels et al (2013) estimate that the world’s forest elephant population was reduced by 62%.

As Central Africa’s elephant numbers plummeted the poaching pressure began to move to the savannahs of East Africa. In 2009 Save the Elephants recorded a spike in poaching rates in Samburu and published a warning in the journal Nature that East Africa’s protected areas were now in danger. Our worst fears came true. Our research estimates that the number of elephants killed for their ivory between 2010 and 2012 was 100,000.

The demand for ivory in the far East is the primary driver of the killing. In the four years up to 2014 the wholesale price of raw ivory in China tripled, reaching a per kilo dollar price of 2,100.

There are two different African Elephant Species

(adapted from A-Z Animals)

African Bush (Savanah) Elephant Facts:

African Bush Elephant Classification and Evolution
The African Bush Elephant is the largest of all living creatures on land today, with some individuals growing to weigh more than 6 tonnes. The Elephant is thought to have been named after the Greek word for ivory, meaning that Elephants were named for their uniquely long tusks. Although many of the ancestors of the African Bush Elephant became extinct during the last ice-age (including the Woolly Mammoth), there are three distinct species of Elephant remaining today which are the Asian Elephant (of which there are a number of sub-species), the African Bush Elephant and the African Forest Elephant. Although these two Elephant species are very similar, the African Bush Elephant is considered to be generally larger than the African Forest Elephant, which has rounder ears and straighter tusks.

African Bush Elephant Anatomy and Appearance

The African Bush Elephant is the largest known land mammal on Earth, with male African Bush Elephants reaching up to 3.5 metres in height and the females being slightly smaller at around 3 metres tall. The body of the African Bush Elephants can also grow to between 6 and 7 meters long. The tusks of an African Bush Elephant can be nearly 2.5 meters in length and generally weigh between 50 and 100 pounds, which is about the same as a small adult Human. African Bush Elephants have four molar teeth each weighing about 5.0 kg and measuring about 12 inches long. As the front pair of molars in the mouth of the African Bush Elephant wear down and drop out in pieces, the back pair shift forward and two new molars emerge in the back of the African Bush Elephant’s mouth. African Bush Elephants replace their teeth six times during their lives but when the African Bush Elephant is between 40 to 60 years old, it no longer has teeth and will likely die of starvation, which is sadly a common cause of death of Elephants in the African wilderness.

African Bush Elephant Distribution and Habitat
Although the historical range of its ancestors ranged right into the Arctic Circle, today the African Bush Elephant is mainly found in central and southern Africa in nomadic herds that wander the plains and grasslands of Africagrazing for food and searching for waterholes. Unlike the slightly smaller African Forest Elephant, the African Bush Elephant inhabits the grassy savanna plains and shrub-land of the African continent in groups that contain mothers and their calves. Generally, African Bush Elephant herds contain around 10 individuals but it is not uncommon for familygroups to join together, forming a clan which can contain over 1,000 Elephants. This very social lifestyle means that the African Bush Elephants are less vulnerable on the open African plains.

African Bush Elephant Behaviour and Lifestyle
Not only is the African Bush Elephant an incredibly sociable mammal but it is also a very active one. African Bush Elephants are nomadic animals meaning that they are constantly on the move in search of food, so moving within these family herds allows them to have greater protection both from predators and from the elements. The trunk of the African Bush Elephant is one of its most distinguishing features and this extra long nose is not only flexible enough to gather and handle food but can also collect water. Its trunk, along with its tusks can also be used to defend itself from predators such as Lions, and to fight with other male African Bush Elephants during the mating season. African Bush Elephants are also considered to be highly intelligent and emotional animals displaying behaviours that include giving and receiving love, caring deeply for the young and grieving for dead relatives.

African Bush Elephant Reproduction and Life Cycles
African Bush Elephants tend to live relatively long lives, with the average life span being between 60 and 70 years, Female African Bush Elephants reach sexual maturity (are able to reproduce) after 10 or 11 years, but are thought to be most fertile between the ages of 25 and 45. Male African Bush Elephants however, often don’t reach sexual maturity until they are nearly 20 years old. After mating and a gestation period of up to 2 years, the female African Bush Elephant gives birth to a single calf (twins have been known but are extremely rare). The African Bush Elephant calf is nursed for 2 years but will remain under the guidance and protection of the herd until it is old enough to support itself (around 6 years old). It is at this point that the tusks of the African Bush Elephant calf will be starting to grow.

African Bush Elephant Diet and Prey
Despite its immense size, the African Bush Elephant is a herbivorous mammal meaning that it survives on a diet that solely consists of plants and plant matter. The bulk of the African Bush Elephant’s diet is comprised of leaves and branches that are stripped off the trees and bushes using its trunk. The African Bush Elephant also grazes on fruits and grasses and uses its immense tusks for digging for roots in the ground and to strip the bark of trees. Food is fed into its mouth using the trunk, and the large, flat teeth of the African Bush Elephant are then the perfect tool for grinding the vegetation and course plants down so that they can then be more easily digested.

African Bush Elephant Interesting Facts and Features
In the early 19th century, the story of the African Bush Elephant was very different with their being up to 5 million individuals thought to have been roaming the African continent. However, due to the increased demand for ivory, Africa’s Bush Elephant population is thought to have fallen as much as 85% in some areas. The large ears of the African Bush Elephant are said by some to be shaped somewhat like Africa, but these large flaps of skin are not just for hearing, they are a vital tool in keeping the Elephant cool in the African heat. Like many of the herbivores found throughout Africa, the calves can walk at birth to maximise their chances of survival. An adult African Bush Elephant can drink up to 50 gallons of water every day, and is able to take 1.5 gallons of water into their trunks at a time.

African Bush Elephant Relationship with Humans
Sadly, due to an increase of outside interest in Africa and its exotic wonders (particularly towards the mid 20th century), the African Bush Elephant population took a devastating decline towards extinction. After having been brutally killed by poachers for years for their ivory, African Bush Elephants had vanished from much of their native habitat. In 1989 a worldwide elephant ivory hunting ban fell into place, after the populations had dropped so dramatically across the continent. In northern and central parts of Africa, the African Bush Elephant is now rare and confined to protected areas, and although the story is similar in the south, South African Elephant populations are thought to be doing better with an estimated 300,000 individuals in the region.

African Bush Elephant Conservation Status and Life Today
Today, although recovering, African Bush Elephant populations are still threatened from increasing levels of illegal poaching and habitat destruction. Deforestation in the African Bush Elephant’s territory means that the African Bush Elephants lose both their food and shelter making them more vulnerable in the wild. Despite the ban, African Bush Elephants are also constantly threatened by poachers hunting the elephants for their ivory tusks.

African Forest Elephant Facts:

African Forest Elephant Classification and Evolution
The African Forest Elephant is one of two Elephant subspecies found on the African continent. Although the African Forest Elephant is slightly smaller than the African Bush Elephant, it is still one of the largest animals found on land today. Although these two Elephantspecies are very similar, the African Forest Elephant is thought to have rounder ears and straighter tusks than the African Bush Elephant, and it has been also noted that the African Bush Elephant and the African Forest Elephant have a different number of toe nails. Until recently though, they were considered to be the same species.

African Forest Elephant Anatomy and Appearance

The African Forest Elephant is the one of the largest known land mammals on Earth, with male African Forest Elephants reaching nearly 3 metres in height and the female African Forest Elephants around 2.5 metres. The tusks of an African Forest Elephant can grow to nearly 1.5 meters long and generally weigh between 50 and 100 pounds, which is about the same as a small adult Human. They are thinner, straighter and shorter than the tusks of the African Bush Elephant. African Forest Elephants have four molar teeth each weighing about 5.0 kg and measuring about 12 inches long. They have large rounded ears which are used both for hearing and to keep them cool.

African Forest Elephant Distribution and Habitat
The African Forest Elephant mainly lives in central and southern Africa in nomadic herds that wander through the forests and grasslands of Africagrazing for food and searching for waterholes. They are most commonly founds in the tropical dense jungles, where their smaller size allows them to move through the thick vegetation more easily than the larger African Bush Elephant. African Forest Elephants are threatened throughout much of their natural habitat today mainly due to deforestation and climate change and have been pushed into smaller and smaller pockets of their native lands.

African Forest Elephant Behaviour and Lifestyle
The African Forest Elephant mainly uses its immense tusks for digging for roots in the ground and to strip the bark off trees. The African Forest Elephant also uses its tusks to defend itself from predators such as Lions, and to fight with other male African Forest Elephants during the mating season. Males are generally fairly solitary but females and their young form small familygroups known as herds. This allows the more vulnerable offspring to be more easily protected. African Forest Elephants communicate through a series of low-frequency calls which they are able to detect from a few kilometres away.

African Forest Elephant Reproduction and Life Cycles
Female African Forest Elephants reach sexual maturity (are able to reproduce) after 10 or 11 years, and male African Forest Elephants often don’t reach sexual maturity until they are nearly 20 years old. After a gestation period of up to 2 years, the female African Forest Elephant gives birth to a single calf (twins have been known but are extremely rare). The African Forest Elephant calf is nursed for 2 years and will remain with the herd until it is old enough to support itself. It is at this point that the tusks of the African Forest Elephant calf will be starting to grow.

African Forest Elephant Diet and Prey
The African Forest Elephant is a herbivorous animal meaning that it only eats plants and other vegetation. They predominantly eat leaves and fruit from trees, herbs and low-lying shrubs. However, the front pair of molars in the mouth of the African Forest Elephant wear down and drop out in pieces, making the back pair shift forward and two new molars emerge in the back of the African Forest Elephant’s mouth. African Forest Elephants replace their teeth six times during their lives but when the African Forest Elephant is about 40 to 60 years old, the African Forest Elephant no longer has teeth and will likely die of starvation, which is sadly a common cause of death in the African wilderness.

African Forest Elephant Interesting Facts and Features
The tusks of the African Forest Elephant are pretty straight instead of curved to help them move through the thick jungle with greater ease. This, along with their pinkish tinge, has made the ivory of the African Forest Elephant’s tusks in high demand on the black market. Despite African Forest Elephants being able to communicate with one another through a couple of miles of dense jungle, the sound they make is so low that it cannot be heard by Humans. They are an essential tool in the spreading of seeds throughout Africa’s forests and are therefore vital to the running of their native eco-systems.

African Forest Elephant Relationship with Humans
Sadly, due to an increase of outside interest in Africa and its exotic wonders, the African Forest Elephant population took a devastating decline towards extinction. In 1989 a worldwide Elephant ivory hunting ban fell into place, meaning that the African Forest Elephant population has fortunately begun to recover. In 1980, there were an estimated 380,000 African Forest Elephants but due to growing Human populations in their native countries, numbers have fallen to 200,000. Deforestation of their habitats and the illegal poaching of the African Forest Elephant for their ivory are also to blame for their recent demise.

African Forest Elephant Conservation Status and Life Today
Today, although slightly recovering in certain areas, African Forest Elephant populations are still threatened from increasing levels of illegal poaching and habitat destruction. Deforestation in the African Forest Elephant’s territory means that the African Forest Elephants lose both their food and shelter making them more vulnerable in the wild. African Forest Elephants are also constantly threatened by poachers hunting the Elephants for their ivory tusks. They are now listed as an Endangered species.