Answer by Rory Young:
It is a distinct species. Africa is now known to have two species of elephants and the world has three!
It has recently been shown through a genetic study to be a distinct species. They are not only a different species, the study found them to be significantly different. The study published in 2010 concluded that the two species diverged from a common ancestor 2 to 7 million years ago
I recently enjoyed my first experience of watching Forest Elephants, after a lifetime with African Elephants, and it was very strange. Aside from size, they look so similar. However, their behavior is very different, especially the way they interact.