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African elephant species:

Critically endangered Loxodonta cyclotis

Affected by: Illegal wildlife trade , Habitat loss and fragmentation , Human-elephant conflict

Critically endangered Loxodonta africana

Affected by: Illegal wildlife trade , Habitat loss and fragmentation , Human-elephant conflict

Following population declines over several decades due to poaching for ivory and loss of habitat, the African forest elephant is now listed as Critically Endangered and the African savanna elephant as Endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

The number of African forest elephants fell by more than 86% over a period of 31 years, while the population of African savanna elephants decreased by at least 60% over the last 50 years, according to the assessments. Both species suffered sharp declines since 2008 due to a significant increase in poaching, which peaked in 2011 but continues to threaten populations.

Other major threats to both African elephant species include the ongoing conversion of their natural habitats for agriculture and other land uses.

We're doing all we can to help, from monitoring herds, to training community rangers and protecting habitat. In safeguarding elephants, we’re also helping support local communities through measures to reduce human-elephant conflict and initiatives to support local livelihoods. We need your help to protect them.

African elephant bull spraying mud at camera

Where African Elephants live

African elephants are found in 37 countries in sub-Sahara Africa, with an estimated 70% in Southern Africa, 20% in Eastern Africa, 6% in Central Africa and 3% in West Africa.

Elephants need a lot of land to find enough food and water. They can roam across more than 30,000 sq km. But the space available to elephants in Africa has more than halved since 1979.

They’re still doing well in some secure areas, where numbers are even increasing, but in other places they’ve been forced to live in smaller, isolated groups and their numbers are getting dangerously low.

Why African elephants are so important

Elephants play an essential role in their environment. They're ‘landscape architects’ – for instance as they move around and feed, they create clearings in wooded areas, which lets new plants grow and forests regenerate naturally.

And then there’s seed dispersal. When elephants eat seed-bearing plants and fruits, the seeds often re-emerge undigested. It’s the way a lot of plants spread. And elephants can eat big seeds that small animals can’t.

Without elephants, the natural structure and functioning of their landscapes would be very different, which would have impacts on the other wildlife and the people who share that space.

Local people depend on natural resources found in elephant habitats, for example for food, fuel and income. As one of Africa’s wildlife ‘big five’, elephants are popular with tourists, which can be an important source of income for communities.

By helping protect elephants we’re also helping make sure their environment and its natural resources are available for generations to come.

African elephant with calf

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£25 could pay a Protection Unit ranger's salary for 10 days, to help keep these magestic creatures safe.

Adopt an elephant and help us fight against illegal wildlife trade, reduce habitat loss and help people live alongside elephants, so this magnificent animal can thrive in the wild.

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