Elephants along the Sangha River spend time in the Dzanga Bai, or "village of elephants," a huge clearing. The elephants go there for a very specific health reason—watch this video to learn why.

This lists the logos of programs or partners of NG Education which have provided or contributed the content on this page. Partner Nat Geo WILD

  • Audience versions of this page: Family

    Groups of mysterious forest elephants live along the Sangha River, part of Dzanga Ndoki National Park in the Central African Republic.
     
    These forest elephants spend time in a huge clearing called the Dzanga Bai, or “village of elephants.” Elephants visit Dzanga Bai for a specific reason. Watch this video, from the Nat Geo WILD program “Destination Wild,” to learn why and answer the short questions in the Questions tab. Then, read the Fast Facts tab to understand how forest elephants are distinct from bush elephants.
    1. Why do the forest elephants of Dzanga Ndoki National Park visit Dzanga Bai?

      The mud at Dzanga Bai provides salts and other nutrients elephants need to stay healthy.

    2. How does the mud of Dzanga Bai help the elephants digest their food?

      The mud contains chemicals that combat poisons emitted by toxic plants in the rain forest.

  • Forest elephants live in the humid rain forest. Bush elephants live in and around the grassy savanna.

    The tusks of forest elephants are usually straight, which keeps them from getting tangled in the dense underbrush of the rain forest. The tusks of bush elephants are slightly curved.

    Forest elephants are usually smaller than bush elephants. An adult male forest elephant rarely exceeds about 2.5 meters (8 feet) tall and weighs about 2.7 tons (5,950 pounds). An adult male bush elephant stands about 3 meters (10.8 feet) tall and weighs about 5.5 tons (12,130 pounds).

    Forest elephants usually have darker skin than bush elephants.

    The ears of a forest elephant are usually a little rounder than the ears of a bush elephant.

    The forest elephant has five toenails on its front feet and four toenails on its hind feet. The bush elephant has four on its front feet and three on its hind feet.

    There are three living species of elephants—the Asian elephant, the bush elephant, and the forest elephant. Both forest elephants and bush elephants live in sub-Saharan Africa.

  • Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    brush Noun

    dense growth of bushes, shrubs, and small trees.

    densely Adverb

    heavily or crowded.

    distinct Adjective

    unique or identifiable.

    forest Noun

    ecosystem filled with trees and underbrush.

    forest elephant Noun

    species of elephant native to the Congo River rain forest in Africa.

    humid Adjective

    containing a large amount of water vapor.

    mysterious Adjective

    secret or not fully understood.

    national park Noun

    geographic area protected by the national government of a country.

    nutrient Noun

    substance an organism needs for energy, growth, and life.

    Encyclopedic Entry: nutrient
    poison Noun

    substance that harms health.

    rain forest Noun

    area of tall, mostly evergreen trees and a high amount of rainfall.

    Encyclopedic Entry: rain forest
    savanna Noun

    type of tropical grassland with scattered trees.

    specific Adjective

    exact or precise.

    tusk Noun

    very long tooth found in animals like elephants and walruses.

    village Noun

    small human settlement usually found in a rural setting.

    Encyclopedic Entry: village