While some African elephants parade across the savanna and thrill tourists on safari, others are more discreet. They stay hidden in the forests, eating fruit.
“You feel pretty lucky when you catch sight of them,” said Kathleen Gobush, a Seattle-based conservation biologist and member of the African Elephant Specialist Group within the International Union for Conservation of Nature, or I.U.C.N.
The threat of extinction has diminished the odds of spotting one of these wood-dwelling elephants in recent decades, according to a new I.U.C.N. Red List assessment of African elephants released Thursday. The Red List categorizes species by their risk of forever vanishing from the world. The new assessment is the first in which the conservation union treats Africa’s forest and savanna elephants as two species instead of one.
Both are in bad shape. The last time the group assessed African elephants, in 2008, it listed them as vulnerable. Now it says savanna elephants are endangered, one category worse.