The North African Elephant (Loxodonta africana pharaoensis) was a possible subspecies of the African Bush Elephant (Loxodonta africana), or possibly a separate elephant species, that existed in North Africa until becoming extinct in Ancient Roman times. These were the famous war elephants used by Carthage in the Punic Wars, their conflict with the Roman Republic. Although the subspecies has been formally described, it has not been widely recognized by taxonomists. Other names for this animal include the North African Forest Elephant, Carthaginian Elephant, and Atlas Elephant. Originally, its natural range probably extended across North Africa and down to the present Sudanese and Eritrean coasts.
Carthaginian frescoes and coins minted by whoever controlled North Africa at various times show very small (perhaps 2.5 metres or 8 feet 2 inches at the shoulder) elephants with the large ears and concave back typical of modern Loxodonta. The North African Elephant was smaller than the modern African Bush Elephant (L. a. africana), probably similar in size to the modern African Forest Elephant (Loxodonta cyclotis). It is also possible that it was more docile than the African Bush Elephant,...