What is the news?
The IUCN declares African Forest elephants as ‘critically endangered’ and Savanna (or bush) elephants as ‘endangered’.
Note: Previously IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) listed both African elephants as “vulnerable”. But now it has opted to list them separately. It is after genetic evidence has proved that both are different species.
About African Elephants
- African elephants are the largest land animals on Earth. They are slightly larger than Asian Elephants and can be identified by their larger ears. (Asian elephants have smaller, rounded ears)
- Elephants are matriarchal. It means they live in female-led groups. The matriarch is usually the biggest and oldest.
- Keystone Species: African elephants are keystone species, i.e., they play a critical role in their ecosystem. They are also known as “ecosystem engineers” as they shape their habitat in many ways.
- Range: Distribution of African elephants is throughout the savannas of sub-Saharan Africa and the rainforests of Central and West Africa.
- Types: There are two subspecies of African elephants:
- African Savanna (or bush) elephant: They are larger animals that roam the plains of sub-Saharan Africa. They are listed as endangered under the IUCN Red List.
- African Forest Elephants: They are smaller animals that live in the forests of Central and West Africa. They are listed as Critically Endangered under the IUCN Red List.
About Asian Elephants:
- IUCN Red List: Endangered
- CITES: Appendix I.
- Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972: Schedule I.
- The Asian elephant is the largest land mammal on the Asian continent. They inhabit dry to wet forest and grassland habitats in 13 range countries spanning South and Southeast Asia.
- Significance: Asian elephants are extremely sociable, forming groups of six to seven related females that are led by the oldest female, the matriarch.
- Subspecies: There are three subspecies of Asian elephants – the Indian, Sumatran, and Sri Lankan. The Indian has the widest range and accounts for the majority of the remaining elephants on the continent.
- In India, the Asian elephant is found in four fragmented populations, in south, north, central and north-east India.
Source: The Hindu