Elephant populations have declined greatly in the rain forests of Upper Guinea (Africa, west of the Dahomey Gap). Elephants have a number of well-known influences on vegetation, both detrimental and beneficial to trees. They are dispersers of a large number of woody forest species, giving rise to concerns that without elephants the plant diversity of Upper Guinean forest plant communities will not be maintained. This prospect was examined with respect to four sources of inventory and research data from Ghana, covering nearly all (more than 2000) species of forest plant. Evidence supporting the hypothesis that plant populations are collapsing without elephants is conspicuously absent in these datasets, although Balanites wilsoniana is likely to suffer dramatically on a centennial scale in the absence of forest elephants. A few other species are likely to decline, although at an even slower rate. In the context of other processes current in these forests, loss of elephants is an insignificant concern for plant biodiversity. Elephant damage of forests can be very significant in Africa, but loss of this influence is more than compensated for by human disturbance. Elephants have played a significant part in the shaping of West African rain forest vegetation. However, it is the conservation of elephants that should be of primary concern. Tree populations should be managed to promote them, rather than vice versa.