African Savanna and Forest Elephants

African Savanna and Forest Elephants

African Savanna and Forest Elephants : Did you know that an elephant is born blind, but able to walk in the first minutes? The forest elephants and the African Savanna elephants also known as the African bush elephant have a lot in common. In Uganda, we have the savannah and forest elephants and seem to look alike from afar but have also got some differences.


The African savanna elephant is basically the largest living terrestrial animal in the world with bulls growing up to over 3 meters in height. On the other hand, the African forest elephant is the smallest of the two species with bulls that rarely exceed 2.5 metres.


The ears of the African savanna elephant look like the shape of the African continent. In addition, the ears are much bigger while the ears of the African forest elephant are more oval-shaped.


The forest elephants have tusks that are straight and point downward while the African savanna elephants have curved tusks.


Interestingly, there is a difference between the number of nails on each of the species’ feet. The savanna elephant has got 4 nails on the front feet and 3 on the back feet. However, the African forest elephants has got 5 nails on the front feet and 4 on the back feet.

Family groups

African forest elephants live in family groups of just a few members while African savanna elephants live in family groups. The group consists of about ten members and often congregate in groups of 70 and above.


Savanna elephants occupy the savannah, grassland and desert ecosystems of sub-Sahara Africa. While the African forest elephants are found in lowland tropical, subtropical rainforests and woodlands of central western Africa.


Though they both feed on trees, herbs and fruits, the savannah elephants have a lower diversity of forage than the forest elephants. In savanna elephants, their seed dispersal and brush clearing maintains the savannah landscape. Additionally, it promotes plant and animal diversity within their range. Forest elephants are allowed the luxury of being highly frugivorous due to them living in the rain forests. Besides, seed dispersal provided by the African forest elephants is crucial to the maintenance of tree diversity.


African savanna elephants are threatened by different circumstances. Some of these include; the rapidly spreading poaching crisis, loss of habitat, climate change, etc resulting in depleted water sources. African forest elephants are threatened by historical and current rampant poaching, trade pressures, etc.

Where they are found in Uganda

In Uganda, the African savanna elephants can be encountered and viewed in Kidepo, Murchison falls and Queen Elizabeth national park. However, the African forest elephants are Bwindi, Mgahinga, Kibale and some in Semiliki national park.

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