Two species of elephant, right? Asian and African. Wrong! This is what I love about science. There’s always room for improvement. Theories, new discoveries, new theories. Until recently, biologists believed there were just two elephants. A recent study by Fauna and Flora International and the South Sudan Wildlife Service included DNA tests and led to the classification of a distinct species, smaller, with straighter tusks and rounder head and ears.
The new species was initially thought to be a subspecies of the savannah elephant but DNA eventually showed that approximately 2.5 million years ago, two genetically different strains of elephants evolved in Africa. The forest elephant lives in the forests of central and western Africa. Genetically and smaller in size than the savanna elephant, it has lived hidden and virtually forgotten. But even in remote central African forests, it faces the same threats as it’s bigger cousins: poaching, illegal logging and war. In fact, between 2002 and 2013 populations declined 62%. New species or not, conservationists believe it may be only five years before elephants are completely extinct. Better take the kids to the zoo!
New York Post Nypost.com/2015/12/11/the-greta-garbo-of-elephant-species-photographed-for-the-first-time