Factsheet: African Elephant

Posted on 13 April 2007

A powerful symbol of nature, the world's largest land animal is still under threat.
African elephants are the largest living land animals. Once numbering millions across the African continent, their populations had been decimated by the mid-1980s by systematic poaching. The status of the species now varies greatly across Africa. Some populations remain endangered due to poaching for meat and ivory, habitat loss, and conflict with humans, while others are secure and expanding.

African elephants are 'flagship' species for their habitats - that is, charismatic representatives of the biodiversity within the complex ecosystems they inhabit. Because these large animals need a lot of space to survive, their conservation will help maintain biological diversity and ecological integrity over extensive areas and so help many other species.

WWF's work
In 2000, WWF launched a new African Elephant Programme. With 40 years of experience in elephant conservation, WWF’s current programme aims to:
  1. increase protection and management of elephants in Africa
  2. build capacity within elephant range countries to manage and protect mitigate conflict between humans and elephants
  3. control the illegal trade in elephant products.
A herd of elephants on the move in Amboseli National Park, Kenya. The female in the middle of the herd has exceptionally long tusks.
© WWF / Martin HARVEY