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African elephants listed as critically endangered

  • Category
    Environment
  • Published
    30th Mar, 2021

The African forest elephant has been listed as critically endangered along with the African savanna elephant which is enlisted as endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature's Red List of Threatened Species.

Context

The African forest elephant has been listed as critically endangered along with the African savanna elephant which is enlisted as endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature's Red List of Threatened Species.

About

About the African Forest and African Savanna Elephants

  • The two species were previously considered as a single species on the Red List.
  • They were earlier listed as vulnerable.
  • Now they have been assessed separately due to the emergence of genetic evidence.
  • Habitat: They both live in different habitats:
  • African Forest elephants live in the tropical forests of Central Africa
  • African Savanna elephants live in the open country in Sub-Saharan Africa, which includes grasslands and deserts

Ecological Significance

  • African Forest elephants are known as the ‘gardeners of the forest,’
  • They help in distributing seeds
  • Savanna elephants are ‘keystone species in their habitat.

Reduction in number

  • The number of African elephants has been decreased by more than 86% over the last 31 years.
  • African savanna elephant’s population has fallen by around 60% over the last 50 years.
  • Threats: Poaching for ivory and loss of habitat.

Keystone species

  • A keystone species is the species of the organism which help in defining an entire ecosystem.
  • In the absence of its keystone species, the ecosystem would be different or cease to exist altogether.
    • Examples: lion, jaguar (shown below), and gray wolf, Sea Otters and Tiger Sharks
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