Asian Elephant

ANIMAL:
Asian Elephant  Elephas maximus

Type of Animal:
Elephant

Habitat:
Forests, grasslands, transition areas between forest/grassland, grassy glades, dry thorn forest, cultivated areas, scrubland, scrub forest, plains, savanna, prickly forest, mosaic habitats, found in altitudes from sea level to over 9,842 ft

Location(s):
India, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Nepal, Bangladesh, S China, SE Asia, Sumatra, Borneo. Formerly found throughout Indian subcontinent, Sri Lanka, SE Asia, S & E China, Sumatra, Borneo, Java as well as S Iran, E & N Iraq, SE Turkey, & E Syria.

Appearance:
Smaller ears than 2 African cousins, only bulls have visible tusks w/ cows having tushes only visible when mouth open if any tusk at all, gray body, long trunk, Borneo Pygmy subspecies smallest of 4 subspecies (in fact often smaller than smallest elephant species-African Forest Elephant), followed by Sumatrans, followed by Indian & Sri Lankan (these 2 tend to be biggest). Overall, larger than Forest Elephants & smaller than African Bush Elephants. 2nd largest land mammal on earth. Some populations have large number of tuskless bulls.

Food/Diet:
Roots, grasses, fruit, bark, leaves, vines, twigs, shoots, agricultural crops, salt, minerals, palms, legumes, flowers, bamboo, stems, nuts, seeds, herbs, trees, vegetables, shrubs

Status in Wild:
Endangered. Semi-domesticated in parts of range.

Conservation:
Breeding in zoos, wildlife parks, & breeding centers

Lifestyle:
Basic family herds led by dominant oldest cow (matriarch), also comprising 5-8 related cows, calves, & juveniles plus a few sub-adult bulls around ages 8-10. Sometimes, different family herds join together forming clans of up to 30 elephants. Young bulls leave family herd between ages 8 & 12 while cows stay w/ family for life. Bulls solitary or in bachelor herds of 2-10 animals.

Additional Info:

Called:
Male: Bull
Female: Cow
Young: Calf
Group: Herd
 
Weight:
Male: 5-7 tons
Female: 3.25-4.5 tons
Young: 1,200 lbs

Gestation:
Up to 2 years 

Life Span:
50-70 years

Height:
Male: 7-11 ft
Female: 5-9 ft
Young: 3-3.5 ft
 
Body Length:
Male: 10-21 ft
Female: 7-16 ft

Tail Length:
3-5 ft, same for both sexes

Adults have no predators while lions & tigers prey on calves.
 
Bulls fight to death by ramming & goring each other. In fact, fights one of most common causes of death among bulls.
 
Most common elephants used in circuses/shows/rides since they tame easier than African cousins.
 
Endangered due to poaching for ivory/meat/skin, habitat loss, deforestation, & killing of individuals as crop pests.
 
Tuskless bulls more common in areas where ivory poaching more prevalent.

Fun Fact(s):
Trunk has multiple purposes, such as grabbing things, drinking, & snorkeling.
 
MORE ANIMAL HANDLERS KILLED BY ELEPHANTS THAN ANY OTHER ANIMAL- worst culprits being bulls in musth (periodic condition in bulls resulting in testosterone levels 60 times higher than usual), cows w/ calves, & abused elephants. Other aggression risks are from individuals that are plain aggressive, regardless of sex. They have wide range of temperaments.
 
Some people believe elephants never forget.

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