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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?

    • Answer

      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?

    • Answer

      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.

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.

Noun

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

poison
Noun

substance that harms health.

Noun

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

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.

Noun

small human settlement usually found in a rural setting.