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Elephant, African Forest

The African forest elephant (Loxodonta cyclotis) 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 one of the largest living terrestrial animals. The African forest elephant and the African bush elephant (L. africana) 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 2014. Generally, these forest-dwelling elephants are smaller and darker than their savanna relatives, the bush elephants. The species normally has five toenails on the forefoot and four on the hind foot, like the Asian elephant, but unlike the African bush elephant which normally has four toenails on the forefoot and three on the hind foot. They also protect themselves from the sun by using sand.

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