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Recently, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) assessed the African elephant as two separate species – the forest elephant and savannah elephant. The move has increased these animals’ ‘ red list’ categorisation to endangered for savannah elephants and critically endangered for forest elephants. In an Age of Extinction extra for Science Weekly, Patrick Greenfield asks why it has taken so long for these two species to be officially recognised as such, and what the reclassification could mean for their conservation. Help support our independent journalism at theguardian.com/sciencepod