African elephants are the world’s largest land mammals; males can grow up to 4 metres tall and weigh a whopping 7,000kg. Around 500,000-700,000 African elephants live across Sub-Saharan Africa and they are classified as vulnerable. Habitat loss and conflict with humans present problems as they are a danger to people and trample crops and structures. The greatest threat by far, however, is poaching. The ivory trade became illegal internationally in 1989, but around 1,000 elephants were killed per year between 2006-2009, and this number has continued to soar. In 2013, an estimated 23,000 elephants were slaughtered for their tusks, with the majority of the ivory being smuggled into China.
There are two subspecies of African elephant: the larger bush or savannah elephant, seen across East and Southern Africa, and the smaller forest elephant which is more elusive and lives in the Central and West African jungles.
- See BBC Nature for videos, information and further links on the African bush elephant