Forest Elephant watching experience in Maiko National park- Congo Elephant Safari .
Democratic republic of congo being a tropical climate destination and having the congo basin is among the top destination for Forest Elephant Watching, its having rain forests and its ranked as the best destination for forest Elephants as explained below.
The African forest elephant is a forest-dwelling species of elephant found in the Congo Basin. It is the smallest of the three extant species of elephant, but still the third-largest living terrestrial animal.
The African forest elephant and the African bush elephant, L. African, were considered to be one species until genetic studies indicated that they separated an estimated 2–7 million years ago. Due to a slower birth rate, the forest elephant takes longer to recover from poaching, which caused its population to fall by 65% from 2002 to 2013.
Classification of Forest Elephants
The African forest elephant was once considered to be a subspecies, Loxodonta africana cyclotis, of the African elephant, together with the African bush elephant. DNA tests, however, indicated that the two populations were much more genetically diverse than previously believed.
The disputed pygmy elephants of the Congo Basin, often assumed to be a separate species are probably forest elephants whose diminutive size or early maturity is due to environmental conditions.
Behavior of forest Elephants
African forest elephants travel in smaller groups than other elephant species. A typical group size consists of 2 to 8 individuals. The average family unit is 3 to 5 individuals, usually made up of female relatives. Most family groups are a mother and several of her offspring, or several females and their offspring. Female offspring are philopatric, male offspring disperse at maturity. Unlike African savanna elephants , African forest elephants do not usually interact with other family groups. Male African forest elephants tend to be solitary and only associate with other elephants during the mating season. Males have a dominance hierarchy based on size
Diet and ecological role
The African forest elephant commonly eats leaves, fruit, and bark. The African forest elephant is an herbivore, and commonly eats leaves, fruit, and bark, with occasional visits to mineral licks. It eats a high proportion of fruit, and is sometimes the only disperse of some tree species, such as Balanites Wilsonian and Omphalocarpum . Elephants have been referred to as “forest gardeners” due to their significant role in seed dispersal and maintaining plant diversity. In Afro tropical forests, many of these plant species are disseminated by forest elephants, sometimes at very long dispersal distances, a mutualism that matters to the population dynamics of plants and to the structure of forest tree communities. Moreover, the rate of seed germination of many forest plant species increases significantly after passage through an elephant’s gut