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Asian Elephant Habitat

Habitat of Asian Elephants:

Asian Elephants are found in grassy areas and at the edge of scrub forests in south and south east Asia. They live in herds made up of related females and their young. The herd is directed by the eldest female known as the matriarch. Males leave the herd when they reach adolescence and form herds with other elephants of the same age. Later on they spread out and live alone, approaching females only during the breeding season.

Males have home ranges which are approximately 15 sq. kms (5.8 sq. miles) where as the home ranges of female herds is in the region of 30 sq. kms (11.6 sq. miles). These ranges increase in size during the dry season. Asian elephants mainly use scrub forest, although their habitat can vary. They can be found in the jungle, but generally on the edge where open, grassy areas are accessible. They prefer areas that combine grass, low woody plants, and forest. Elephants rarely forage in one area for more than a few days in a row.

  • Habitat Regions: tropical terrestrial
  • Terrestrial Biomes: savanna or grassland forest scrub forest
  • Other Habitat Features: agricultural


A keystone species, elephants help to maintain the forest through seed dispersal; they also open up spaces within the canopy by knocking over smaller trees, making room for new growth, benefitting both the forest and the other species living within it.

Primary habitat types:

  • Tropical and subtropical moist broadleaf forests
  • Tropical and subtropical dry broadleaf forests.


Zone Wise:

  • Move through vegetation zones seasonally; often found along rivers in dry months
  • In Southern India: hilly dry scrub through deciduous forest to wet evergreen forest
  • Northeastern India and Burma: swampy grasslands on river floodplains; moist deciduous forest on Himalayan slopes
  • Sri Lanka: mainly dry deciduous woodland, scrub, grassland, and marshes; small population in rainforest
  • India's Andaman Islands: swim across sea between various islands
  • Prefer transitional zones between two ecological communities (forests and grasslands)
  • Require more access to shade than African elephants
  • Inhabit more low visibility habitats compared to African elephants


Although occupying exclusively tropical and subtropical zones, Asian elephants live in a wide range of habitats, including:

  • Wet evergreen forest
  • Montane evergreen forest and grassland
  • Semi-evergreen forest
  • Moist deciduous forest
  • Dry deciduous forest
  • Savanna (mixed woodland and grassland mosaic)
  • Bamboo forest
  • Dry scrub
  • Swampy floodplain grassland


They are essentially mixed feeders, so accessibility to a wide range of plants, and to water within one day’s walk, are essential prerequisites .Estimates of natural animal density are hard to make. The carrying capacity will also vary with the environment. In general, an area of about 2mi2 (5km2) per animal is probably typical in the wild, although the figure may be as high as 7.7mi2 (20km2) in rainforest habitats.

Asian elephants inhabit a variety of tropical forest habitats from moist, evergreen lowland forest to dry semi-deciduous teak forests to cooler mountain forests up to 10,000 feet. They also frequent adjacent grasslands and farm areas. Their varied diet enables them to live in disturbed forests as long as they have plenty of space to move around and exploit different foods without coming into conflict with people.


Nature Video Highlight

EHNF 2018 Rural Futures: Lisa Mills, University of Montana on Asian Elephant Conservation
EHNF 2018 Rural Futures: Lisa Mills, University of Montana on Asian Elephant Conservation
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