Are there any living dwarf elephants?


Date: 1996-07-09 from Steven James in Narro

Question

Are there any living dwarf elephants? If so, can you provide any specific information?

Answer

-Sorry not at this moment, as far as I know, so my reply will be merely speculations: I am not sure, but I doub´t the dwarf elephant´s are really regarded as scientifically described, and there's no evidence for their existence, however one sometimes see "facts" about a species with the latin name Loxodonta pumilus, dwarf elephants.

But, one has to bear in mind, that all animals gets smaller in forest than in open area. In the case of elephants, there's two different types of African elephant; (Loxodonta africana) it is divided into two so called subspecies.

The greater, bush elephant (Loxodonta africana africana) is bigger, has larger proportionally ears, big tusks that is bend horizontally outwards and,and has 4 toes on the frontnails, and 3 toes on the hindnails. While in the rainforest in Westafrica, exist an other subspecies, the forest (or roundeared) elephant, Loxodonta africana cyclotis , with smaller ears, smaller tusks, that is bent downwards, and with 5 frontnails and 4 backnails.

The general body is smaller and lower. Of this subspecies exists today only two captive in Europe, unfortunately not in the same zoo. I don´t think there's any in USA. For the old game hunters in the early 1800´s, that saw the giants in Angola before they were killed, the forest elephant must have indeed appeared much smaller, especially in the dark forest.

During the late 70´s I saw a dwarf elephant in Dehivela gardens, Colombo, Sri Lanka. (true cyclotis) It was in fact very small and had a dwarfish character. I was never convinced whether this elephant had this strange appearance due to wrong diet or some pathological reason, but it looked strange. On the other hand, when there's an ambition to make someone a dwarf there's always possible... Personally, I felt that this elephant had some pathologic problem, because it did look rather sick and bad.

There was no whatsoever "natural" appearance in the body, which otherwise smaller varieties of animals still will have. Then, of course it´s difficult to know about the extinct northern elephant, Loxodonta africana pharaoensis. This was the elephant that were brought to Italy from Cartage by Hannibal, and that was used in the arenas in old Rome.

Did it exist small varieties of this one, adapted to difficult conditions? So far, I have not come over any facts,indicating there are any dwarf elephants.

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