Asian Elephant

(Elephas maximus)

Habitat and Distribution:
Found in forests and grassy plains of India, Indochina, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, and southern China.

Size: 7-12 feet at the shoulder; 5,000-14,000 pounds
 
Wild Diet: Grasses, bamboo, small trees, bark, shrubs, and fruit

Predators: Humans; some calves become prey to tigers

Lifespan: 40-50 years

Reproduction: Asian elephants are ready to mate at 10-17 years. Females give birth to a single calf after a gestation of 20-22 months (twins are rare). Each calf weighs about 200 pounds at birth, can stand within a half hour, and will nurse for 2-3 years. Aunts within the herd serve as midwives, removing the fetal membrane and helping the baby to stand.

Behavior: Asian elephants make a variety of sounds, including trumpets, roars, purrs, and squeaks. Some of these low-frequency sounds can travel for miles. Like African elephants, they have matriarchal societies, meaning that one female elephant leads and other females assume different ranks within a herd. Males leave their herds at 10-15 years of age and generally roam alone or in small bachelor groups.

Conservation

IUCN Status: Endangered

Asian elephant populations have declined as a result of poaching and ivory trading, and they are quickly losing their wild habitat due to human encroachment.

Did you know?

  • Asian elephants can eat up to 300 pounds of food in a day.
  • They have 6 sets of teeth in their lifetime. Instead of being replaced vertically (like ours), elephant teeth slowly move from the back of the mouth to the front as new molars grow continuously.
  • They use a fingerlike feature at the end of the trunk to grab small items.