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  • 30 March, 2021

  • 3 Min Read

IUCN Declares African Elephants as Critically Endangered

IUCN Declares African Elephants as Critically Endangered

The IUCN has declared African Forest elephants as critically endangered and Savanna (or bush) elephants as endangered.

Previously IUCN listed both African elephants as “vulnerable”. But now it has opted to list them separately. It is after genetic evidence 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, suggesting they live in female-led groups.
  • The matriarch is usually the biggest and oldest.
  • African elephants are keystone species meaning they play a critical role in their ecosystem. They are also known as ecosystem engineers as they shape their habitat in many ways.
  • African elephants are distributed throughout the savannas of sub-Saharan Africa and the rainforests of Central and West Africa.
  • There are two subspecies of African elephants
    • African Savanna (or bush) elephant: They are larger animals that roam the plains of sub-Saharan Africa. It is 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. It is 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.
  • Asian elephants are extremely sociable, forming groups of six to seven related females that are led by the oldest female, the matriarch.
  • There are 3 subspecies of Asian elephants – 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 4 fragmented populations, in south, north, central and northeast India.

Project Elephant

  • Tiger faces the threat of extinction, whereas the elephant faces the threat of attrition.
  • The elephant numbers have not increased or decreased drastically but there is increasing pressure on the elephant habitats.
  • Project Elephant was launched in 1992.
  • It is a centrally sponsored scheme.


  • to assist states having populations of wild elephants and to ensure long-term survival of identified viable populations of elephants in their natural habitats
  • addressing man-animal conflict.
  • Developing scientific and planned management measures for the conservation of elephants.
  • Protecting the elephants from poachers, preventing illegal ivory trade and other unnatural causes of death

Karnataka has the highest number of elephants (6,049), followed by Assam (5,719) and Kerala (3,054)

Source: TH

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