In the Congo – African Forest Elephant

by Daniel Mackie May 24, 2012

African forest Elephant watercolour painting
The Congo Rainforest is the world’s second largest tropical forest, covering 700,000 square miles. It spreads across the basin of the Congo River and across six countries. So its big! Big enough to hide a brand new species?

Well, up until recently it was always thought that the Forest Elephant was a smaller subspecies of the African elephant. It was generally considered that, although the elephants had adapted to their forest habitat, they were still Savanna Elephants. But they weren’t.

Forest Elephants

 

When a DNA identification system was set up to trace where poached ivory was coming from, scientists found that the African Elephants consisted of two very different species. They expected slight variations in the genetic makeup, but were surprised to discover two different species.

About 2.5 million years ago two genetically different strains of elephants evolved in Africa. The forest elephant, which found its niche in the equatorial forests of central and western areas and the Savanna Elephant which colonised the grassy plains and bushland.

Some scientists consider the two species as different as lions are from tigers, or horses are from zebras.

So the paths that dissect the forest of the Congo basin are the tracks worn over time by the feet of forest elephants; a distinct species, smaller, finer and sleeker than their grassland cousins.

Forest Elephants are listed as vulnerable by the IUCN

Below is the work in progress, I wanted to get the path through the forest clear enough. One of the reasons I changed the whole composition from my earlier Drawing (see my earlier post here) was to get this message across, These elephants live in the forest, so by turning the elephant to a profile view instead of a head on view I feel I have given equal weight to both forest and the elephant, where as my earlier attempt was more elephant than forest!
Watercolour of an elephant - painting in progress

Images © Daniel Mackie


Check out Daniel’s shop at The DM Collection




Daniel Mackie
Daniel Mackie

Author



Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.


Also in News / Work in progress / Mythology

Robin - Karma & Fire

by Harry Miller May 14, 2019

One of the most recognisable songbirds in the garden is the plucky Robin.  Being a member of the thrush family, it’s not only cousin to the song thrush and blackbird, but also to the nightingale, so it’s no surprise that the robin has a beautiful voice as well.

Read More

The Love Drug

by Harry Miller April 11, 2019

The earliest depictions of the use of the heart symbol is believed to derive from the ancient culture of Cyrene, a North African city which was founded by the Greeks in 631 BC, and then later ruled by the Romans.

Read More

“Flamin’ Flamingos!”

by Harry Miller March 22, 2019

There’s a lot of ancient mythical beasts which seem pretty isolated, unique to a country’s culture, or even to a specific region.  Others, like mermaids, dragons, and giants, are intercultural, being known by many.  The Phoenix is one of these mythical superstars, and was known by the Greeks, the Romans, the Egyptians, and even by the Chinese.

Read More