Diet & Feeding

Food Items and Feeding Strategies

 

  • They are both browsers (feeding on shrubs and trees) and grazers (feeding on grass)
    • Can consume many species of plants, as well as twigs and bark but usually only a few plant taxa
    • 112 species of plants in a study in southern India, 400 species recorded in Malaysia
  • Choice of plants varies with seasons
    • Feed on mostly plants during dry season
    • Shift to grass in first part of wet season;
    • Return to browse feeding after heavy rains (when grass less nutritious).
  • Strategies for obtaining grass include:
    • Dislodge clumps with feet, gather a pile of grass, grab with trunk, smack against leg to knock off dirt, put in mouth when dirt-free
    • Wash clumps by moving back and forth with trunk in water
  • Usually do not feed for more than a few days in one place
    • Drink every day when available; stay close to a source of fresh water
    • Can ingest over 100 liters (26 gallons) at one time
    • Drink up to 225 liters (59 gallons) per day
    • If no water available, dig with forefeet and trunks for subsoil water; wallows created in this manner.
  • Anecdotal evidence reports elephants fond of alcohol; reports of raiding illicit liquor stores in the forest.
  • Adults eat approx. 150kg (330 lbs) daily; approximately 1.5 – 2% (dry weight) of body weight
  • Salt needed in diet; migrate to deposits regularly and excavate with tusks if necessary.

 

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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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