The Asian elephant is smaller than its African cousin, and can be domesticated as a working animal. It is sometimes (incorrectly) called the Indian elephant. There are about 35-50 thousand Asian elephants still living in the wild, but they are endangered by the destruction of their habitat and also by hunting. Several countries have established wildlife refuges in an effort to protect these elephants.
|Common Name||Asiatic Elephant|
Asian Elephants are species from the Elephas genus. It is distributed in Southeast Asia from India in the west to Borneo in the east.
Asian Elephants average about 8 feet (2.5 m) tall at the shoulder. Males weigh up to 6 tons (5,400 kg); females average about 4 tons (3,600 kg). Only males have tusks (large, pointed ivory teeth). They have wrinkled, gray-brown skin that is almost hairless. The ears not only hear well, but also help the elephant lose excess heat, as hot blood flows near the surface.
Asian elephants are highly intelligent and self-aware. They have a very large and highly convoluted neocortex, a trait also shared by humans, apes and certain dolphin species.
Elephants eat roots, grasses, leaves, bark, bananas and sugar cane. Working bulls can eat up to 300-600 pounds (130-260 kg) of food each day.
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|Elephas maximus maximus (Sri Lankan Elephant)|
|Sri Lankan elephants are the largest subspecies reaching a shoulder height of between 2 and 3.5 m (6.6 and 11.5 ft), weigh between 2,000 and 5,500 kg (4,400 and 12,000 lb), and have 19 pairs of ribs.|
|Elephas maximus indicus (Indian Elephant)|
|Indian elephants have smaller ears, but relatively broader skulls and larger trunks than African elephants. Toes are large and broad. Unlike their African cousins, their abdomen is proportionate with their body weight but the African elephant has a large abdomen as compared to the skulls.|
|Elephas maximus sumatranus (Sumatran Elephant)|
|Sumatran elephants reach a shoulder height of between 2 and 3.2 m (6.6 and 10.5 ft), weigh between 2,000 and 4,000 kg (4,400 and 8,800 lb), and have 20 pairs of ribs. Their skin color is lighter than of maximus and indicus with least depigmentation.|
Asian Elephant and Man
For thousands of years, Elephants have worked for people in Asia. They have been used for festivals, as beasts of burden, as weapons of war, and even as a method to execute prisoners. To many in Asia, particularly Hindus, elephants are sacred. Some countries still have working elephants. However, Wild elephants in Asia are still threatened by loss of their habitat. This has lead to attacks on villages, and desperately hungry elephants raiding villages for crops. The authorities in Southeast Asia are working hard to lower human-elephant conflict and give enough space for the elephants.