Elephant - How to recognize the giants
Asian Elephant, The largest land mammal in Asia, this intelligent, highly social animal lives in small groups led by the dominant female, or 'matriarch’.
The elephant play a crucial role in its forest ecosystem. Commonly referred to as a ‘keystone’ species, it helps to open up forest clearings and distributes the seeds of trees and shrubs.
Threatened by poaching and the destruction of the forests in which they live, these magnificent animals are increasingly coming into conflict with the people sharing their habitat.
Effective management of the species and its environment is required in order to resolve these issues.
Asian elephants once ranged from Iraq east through Asia south of the Himalayas, into southern China and possibly south to Java. However, centuries of hunting and habitat destruction caused dramatic declines. Males are still killed for their tusks, although this happens less often today thanks to a global ivory ban, in place since 1989.
Today, Asian elephants thrive mostly in large remote reserves as well as in and among human habitation. Where elephants and people inhabit the same area, conflicts often occur. Elephants can cause great damage to crops, and they occasionally kill people. Males are mostly responsible for the majority of attacks.
Asian Elephants have been captured from the wild and tamed for use by humans. They are/have been used for carrying heavy objects, used in ceremonies and were used during wars in old times.
Elephants also play important roles in the cultures and religions of countries in most of their range, which inspires support for habitat protection measures, continued studies about elephants and their conservation needs, and efforts to mitigate conflicts between elephants and people.
Classification of Asian Elephant
Species: Elephas maximus (Asian elephant)
Subspecies: E. m. maximus (Sri Lankan Asian elephant)
Subspecies: E. m. indicus (mainland Asian elephant)
Subspecies: E. m. sumatranus (Sumatran Asian elephant)
Species: Loxodonta Africana
Subspecies: Loxodonta africana africana (bush or savannah elephant)
Subspecies: Loxodonta africana cyclotis (forest elephant).
The Asian Elephant is the smallest species of elephant. They have a body length up to 3.5 m (11 ft), they have a tail length between 1 and 1.5 m (3.25 - 5 ft.) and they weigh between 2 and 5 tonnes (2 - 4.9 tons).
The have thick, dry skin that is grey/brown in colour and they have a sparse covering of hair. Their ears are large, although they are much smaller than those of the African elephant. They have a rounded back, four toenails on each hind foot and a long trunk with a single process at the tip which is used for picking up small objects.
They have small tusks and these may be absent in females. If tusks are present in females they are known as tushes, and they are only usually seen when the female opens her mouth. Some males may also lack tusks and they are known as makhnas, these are especially common among the Sri Lankan subspecies
At a glance:
|Latin Name||Elephas maximus|
|Location||South & South East Asia|
|Length||Up to 3.5 m (11 ft.)|
|Tail||1 - 1.5 m (3.25 - 5 ft.)|
|Weight||2 - 5 tonnes (2 - 4.9 tons)|
|Life Expectancy||70 yrs.|