Conference Proceeding

Massive loss of forests elephants in central Africa



Maisels F, Strindberg S, Blake S, Wittemyer G, Hart J, Williamson EA, Aba'a R, Abitsi G, Ambahe R, Amsini F, Bakabana PC, Hicks T, Bayogo R, Bechem M & Beyers R (2014) Massive loss of forests elephants in central Africa. In: Malhi Y (ed.) Megafauna and Ecosystem Function: from the Pleistocene to the Anthropocene Conference Abstracts. Megafauna and Ecosystem Function: From the Pleistocene to the Anthropocene, Oxford University, Oxford, UK, 18.03.2014-20.03.2014. Oxford: Environmental change institute, Oxford University, p. 18.

The forest and savannah elephants of Africa are now thought to have diverged about five million years ago, at about the same time as the divergence of Asian elephants and woolly mammoths. Recent research has demonstrated that, in the absence of forest elephants, the African tropical forest ecosystem alters in structure, diversity, and composition. This is because elephants play a highly important role as "ecosystem engineers" and "forest gardeners" by dispersing the seeds of fruiting trees over large distances, and by creating trails and forest clearings. Surveys across the range of forest elephants in Central Africa have shown that both their numbers and range are diminishing very rapidly due to increased illegal killing – driven by high ivory prices in the Far East – that now reaches into the most remote corners of the continent. The long-term effects of this are likely to result not only in a change in the characteristics of one of Earth’s primary carbon sequestering forests, but also in a reduction of food for the rest of the frugivore community, including primates, ungulates, and large frugivorous birds.

Additional co-authors: Anicet N Bezangoye, Patrick Boundja, Nicolas Bout, Marc Ella Akou, Lambert Bene, Bernard Fosso, Elizabeth Greengrass, Falk Grossmann, Clement Ikamba-Nkulu, Omari Ilambu, Bila-Isia Inogwabini, Fortune Iyenguet, Franck Kiminou, Max Kokangoye, Deo Kujirakwinja, Stephanie Latour, Innocent Liengola, Quevain Mackaya, Jacob Madidi, Bola Madzoke, Calixte Makoumbou, Guy-Aimé Malanda, Richard Malonga, Olivier Mbani, Valentin A Mbenzo, Edgar Ambassa, Albert Ekinde, Yves Mihindou, Bethan J Morgan, Prosper Motsaba, Gabin Moukala, Anselme Mounguengui, Brice S Mowawa, Christian Ndzai, Stuart Nixon, Pele Nkumu, Fabian Nzolani, Lilian Pintea, Andrew Plumptre, Hugo Rainey, Bruno Bokoto de Semboli, Adeline Serckx, Emma Stokes, Andrea Turkalo, Hilde Vanleeuwe, Ashley Vosper, Ymke Warren Output Type: Meeting Abstract

Publication date31/12/2014
Publication date online31/03/2014
Related URLs
PublisherEnvironmental change institute, Oxford University
Publisher URL…tem_function.pdf
Place of publicationOxford
ConferenceMegafauna and Ecosystem Function: From the Pleistocene to the Anthropocene
Conference locationOxford University, Oxford, UK

People (2)


Professor Fiona Maisels

Professor Fiona Maisels

Honorary Professor, Biological and Environmental Sciences

Professor Liz Williamson

Professor Liz Williamson

Honorary Professor, Psychology