African Elephants are classified as "vulnerable" to extinction. They are susceptible to climate change for several reasons, like sensitivity to high temperatures and being prone to a variety of diseases. Elephants also have a long generation time and moderate amounts of genetic variation, making it hard for the species to adapt as the climate changes. African Elephants also have traits that make them resilient to climate change, like living across a range of diverse habitats, which exposes them to a variety of climates. They also feed on many different foods and have a relatively large population size.
African elephants need lots of fresh water, which influences their daily activities, reproduction and migration—and poses a threat as water becomes more scarce. Sub-Saharan Africa is projected to get warmer, with unprecedented heat extremes expected to occur with greater frequency during summer months. Climate stressors can also drive and exacerbate other threats to the species—like poaching, habitat loss and human-elephant conflict.
About This Species
Herds of African elephants—the largest species walking the Earth—wander through 37 countries in Africa. The elephants are easily recognized by their trunks, which are used to communicate and handle objects, and their large ears, which radiate heat. Their tusks, which develop from their upper incisor teeth, grow throughout their lifetime.