The African Forest Elephant Foundation (“AFEF”) was founded by Callum Gerrish and Christian Triay in 2016 in response to the unprecedented, and largely unreported, decline of the African forest elephants of Central Africa. Consequently, based in London and Cape Town, AFEF is working to induce an international shift in elephant conservation that highlights the fast decline toward extinction of forest elephants in Central Africa and aims to preserve their place, along with that of their forest habitat, into the future. From grassroots and community-based projects and anti-poaching initiatives around forest elephant habitat in the Congo Basin, to campaigning for the cause of forest elephant conservation at an international level, join us to secure a future for Africa’s forest elephants and their natural habitat.
AFEF’s mission is to secure the survival of African forest elephants and the Central African forest habitat in which they survive, into the future. To achieve our mission, AFEF will be operating in the following areas.
Forest elephants have declined without attention from the world due to the fact that we know very little about this elusive species. In the depths of the Central African forest, forest elephants are able to go about their lives – and unfortunately, be poached out of existence – without news of their activities leaving the forests nor the largely volatile region of Central Africa in general.
By contrast, the status of savannah elephant populations in Eastern and Southern Africa – the primary focus of African elephant conservation today – is well-known and the many of such populations appear to be increasing in spite of prevalent poaching in areas such as Mozambique and Tanzania. This is because we can easily study their numbers using aerial surveys over the savannahs and open habitats to maintain accurate monitoring and constant research on the health and status of savannah elephant populations. The majority of elephant conservation and zoological research focuses on savannah elephants because of the relative ease with which we can observe and monitor them.
Forest elephants, on the other hand, have suffered through a lack of such attention. Their existence in the vast equatorial forests of the Central Africa makes using the same techniques to monitor the health of populations and illegal killing – such as aerial surveys – ineffective. As a result, AFEF is working to advance forest elephant conservation for the survival of the species using on the ground field research.
A separate species
Research today necessitates that we recognise the forest elephant (Loxodonta cyclotis) and the savannah elephant (Loxodonta Africana) as two distinct species and the future of forest elephants will depend on whether we recognise this distinction. By recognising the separateness of the ecologically, socially, morphologically and genetically-distinct forest elephant, it is immediately clear that their fast decline represents the eradication of an entire critically endangered species – and not just a regional sub-population of forest-dwelling savannah elephants. In order to secure a future for forest elephants, elephant conservation must more prominently feature research that furthers the knowledge of forest elephants in zoological science, as well as research into the ecology of their natural habitat, in order to best manage elephant conservation strategy going forward.
AFEF is working with academics and conservationists at the forefront of research into African forest elephants and the ecology of the equatorial forest habitat of Central Africa. We must ensure that zoological science knows more about the unique forest elephant, so that management of both the elephants and the forest is directed in a way which will ensure their survival.
Education and Awareness
If the world is to unite to ensure that Africa’s forest elephants survive into the future, it is essential that the public knows all about forest elephants, their decline, their crucially important ecological role and the fundamental importance of their habitat. Forest elephants are racing towards extinction as long as elephant conservation focuses only on their savannah cousins. Forest elephants will only survive if the whole world knows about them and how wonderfully integral they are to the global ecosystems upon which we all depend to survive and thrive.
AFEF aims to be a comprehensive resource for all to learn about forest elephants and the forest habitat in which they live. We aim to bring the cause of forest elephant conservation to the forefront of public environmental knowledge and fulfil our mission to secure a future for these wonderful animals.