ASIAN ELEPHANT – Elephas maximus


Asian elephant facts: Asian elephants weigh 3.3 to 5.5 tons (3 to 5 metric tons) with shoulder heights of 6.6 to 9.8 feet (2 to 3 meters). They have heads that are large compared to their bodies with large ears—but smaller ears than the African elephant—that fold forward at top. Their trunks have one finger at tip. Asian elephants have gray skin that fades to pink spotting on ears, face, and trunk with age. Only males have tusks. Some males lack tusks but make up for this by have an especially strong upper trunk region.

Geographic range: Asian elephants live in Myanmar, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Vietnam. Smaller populations can be found in Bangladesh, Bhutan, southwest China, Indonesia, and Nepal.

Asian elephant habitat: Asian elephants live primarily in forests that are wet or partially moist, those containing bamboo, and grassland. They must live with a day’s walking distance of water.

What does asian elephant eat: Asian elephants spend eighteen to twenty hours a day eating and searching for food. Adults eat 220 to 440 pounds (100 to 200 kilograms) of food daily. They consume a variety of plants, which they chew with their molars, and drink up to 53 gallons (200 liters) of water each day.

Behavior and reproduction: Asian elephants have matriarchal social structures that are complex. They live in family units within larger groups. Asian elephants mate throughout the year, and the gestation period lasts twenty-two months. Females assist each other in raising the calves within family units. They communicate by touching one another and making sounds. Given their size, elephants do not have many predators. Calves and weakened adults may be attacked by hyenas, lions, and tigers.

Asian elephants and people: Asian elephants are important in Asian cultures. They are revered in religion. Asian elephants are also used for domestic work and in the military.

Conservation Status: Listed as Endangered by the IUCN due primarily to habitat loss, but also because of poaching for ivory, meat, and hides, especially in southern India.