Asian Elephant

ENDANGERED SPECIES | Asian Elephant

Sumatran elephant, (Elephas maximus sumatrensis) a member of Flying Squad in Tesso Nilo National Park, Riau, Indonesia WWF

The Asian elephant, also called Asiatic elephant, is the only living species of the genus Elephas and is distributed throughout the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia, from India in the west, Nepal in the north, Sumatra in the south, and to Borneo in the east. Wikipedia

photo credit: WorldWildlifeFund.Org

Elephants are an important cultural icon in Asia. According to Hindu mythology, the gods (deva) and the demons (asura) churned the oceans in a search for the elixir of life so that they would become immortal. As they did so, nine jewels surfaced, one of which was the elephant. In Hinduism, the powerful deity honored before all sacred rituals is the elephant-headed Lord Ganesha, who is also called the Remover of Obstacles.

Asian elephants are extremely sociable, forming groups of six to seven related females that are led by the oldest female, the matriarch. Like African elephants, these groups occasionally join others to form herds, although these associations are relatively transient.

More than two thirds of an elephant’s day may be spent feeding on grasses, but large amounts of tree bark, roots, leaves and small stems are also eaten. Cultivated crops such as bananas, rice and sugarcane are favorite foods. Elephants are always close to a source of fresh water because they need to drink at least once a day.

Source:  World Wildlife Fund


• PLACES
Eastern Himalayas, Greater Mekong
• HABITATS
Forest Habitat
• STATUS
Endangered
• POPULATION
Fewer than 50,000
• SCIENTIFIC NAME
Elephas maximus indicus
• HEIGHT
6.5– 11.5 feet
• WEIGHT
around 11,000 pounds
• LENGTH
around 21 feet

WHY THEY MATTER

A future for Asian elephants ensures a future for other species and wild spaces.

WHY THEY ARE CRITICALLY ENDANGERED

ILLEGAL WILDLIFE TRADE

Even where suitable habitat exists, poaching remains a threat to elephants in many areas. In 1989, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) banned the international trade in ivory. However, there are still some thriving but unregulated domestic ivory markets in a number of countries which fuel an illegal international trade. Although most of this ivory comes from poaching of African elephants, Asian elephants are also illegally hunted for their ivory, as well as for their skin. In some countries, political unrest is disrupting antipoaching activities.

GENETIC THREAT

Conservationists are concerned that a loss of male big tuskers due to poaching could lead to inbreeding and eventually to high juvenile mortality and overall low breeding success. The loss of tuskers also reduces the probability that these longer-living lone males will mate and exchange genes with females of different sub-populations.

HOW YOU CAN HELP

Adopt an Animal
Make a Symbolic Elephant Adoption to help save some of the world’s most endangered animals from extinction and support conservation efforts.

Take Action
Learn how you can take action against the most urgent threat to elephants, rhinos and tigers.

CLICK FOR MORE INFORMATION ON THE ASIAN ELEPHANT.
Source of all information provided on page: World Wildlife Fund