Forest elephants are some of the magnificent animals you will come across on your Uganda safari trip. Uganda is one to both savannah elephants, which are the more common ones, and the African forest elephants.
What is the difference between the forest elephant and the savannah elephant?
The differences between the two types of elephants are not very distinctive. You probably will not notice them until you get closer to the forest elephants then you will notice some few differences.
Forest elephants have 5 toes on their front feet, and four on their hind feet. They have a slight covering of hair on their skins and are grey in colour. Their tusks are also smaller than those of the savannah elephants and are straighter and point downwards to help them navigate through forest easily.
Forest elephants are mostly found in the jungles of west and central Africa, but there are a few in Uganda, most of them having come through a corridor from the democratic republic of Congo.
Forest elephants are smaller than their savannah cousins but that doesn’t mean they are small animals. They are quite massive and weigh up to about three tons. Their body length ranges from 3 to 4 meters.
Forest elephant facts
Feeding: forest elephants feed on large quantities of grass, leaves, fruit and other vegetation. They can drink up to 15 liters of water in one go. They also often dig in the soil in search of mineral salts.
Tusks: the tusks of the forest elephant are straighter and point downwards. Their tusks are of the highest quality. They are preferred by poachers because the ivory is harder and yet it retains an elastic quality which is quite rare. For this reason forest elephants are heavily poached especially in the Democratic republic of Congo. Although not very rampant in Uganda, elephants poaching is on the rise in the pearl of Africa too, and forest elephants are also being poached, not just the savannah elephants.
Sound and communication: forest elephants can communicate with each across long distances. They communicate by low call to one another. The sounds are too low for humans to hear. They have big round ears which can pick up those low sounds.
Forest habitation: these elephants are elusive but cause quite a lot of havoc in the forests. They are much more destructive than savannah elephants. They dig up the ground, bring trees down. And destroy under bushes for the trails. They are not very peaceful and harmonious with their environment.
Breeding: forest elephants do not have a specific breeding period. They can mate and breed any time of the year. Gestation period for a forest elephant is 22 months. And elephants usually give birth to a single calf.
Threats and predators: the major threats and predators are humans- poachers and those who encroach on their forest habitat.
Where can you find forest elephants in Uganda?
Forest elephants in Uganda can be found in a few national parks and forests such as Bwindi Impenetrable forest, Mgahinga gorilla national park, and Kibale national park. You can also find some in Semiliki national park, the ishasha sector of Queen Elizabeth national park, and Mount Elgon national park.
If you make plans to go chimpanzee of gorilla trekking in any of these parks, you just might get an opportunity to see one of the forest elephants. If you have a good guide, who has good knowledge of the forests, he can point out their trails to you and lead you to either their watering holes or grazing area.
The forest elephants are quite a sight to behold, if you get a chance and see them, you will be glad you did.