The North African Elephant
, also known as the North African Forest Elephant
, the Carthaginian Elephant
, or the Atlas Elephant
, was a species of elephant
that once roamed the wooded slopes of the Atlas Mountains
in North Africa
in large numbers, but is now extinct. This was the species that was used as war elephants
by the Carthaginians
and which Hannibal
famously tried to take over the Alps
Ancient wall paintings and coins show that the North African elephant was much smaller than other species, probably only about 2.5 meters (8 feet) tall at the shoulder, compared to 3.5 meters (11 feet) for a modern African elephant. It also had a flat or humped back.
In addition to its famous use in war by the Carthaginians, the North African Elephant was also the species domesticated in earlier times by the Egyptian pharaohs, and may have even helped build the pyramids. The North African Elephant survived until the early centuries of the Common Era before it was hunted to extinction for use in Roman gladitorial games.