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The Asian Elephant (Elephas maximus), is one of the three living species of elephant, and the only living species of the genus Elephas. The species is found primarily in large parts of India, Sri Lanka, Indochina peninsula and parts of Indonesia.


Sizes and Scales:
It is smaller than its African relatives, and the easiest way to distinguish the two is the smaller ears of the Asian elephant. Asian elephants tend to grow to around two to four meters (7-12 feet) in height and 3,000-5,000 kilograms (6,500-11,000 pounds) in weight.

Asian and African: Asian elephants have other differences from their African relatives, including a more arched back than the African, one semi-prehensile "finger" at the tip of their trunk as opposed to two, 4 nails on each hind foot instead of three, and 19 pairs of ribs instead of 21. Also, unlike female African elephants, female Asian elephants lack tusks. The forehead has two hemispherical bulges unlike the flat front of the African. Some males may also lack tusks and they are termed as makhnas. The population in Sri Lanka has a greater number of makhnas.

1, 2, 3 Times the Elephant: The Asian elephant, sometimes known as the Indian elephant (Elephas maximus) is one of the three living species of elephant, and the only living species of the genus Elephas.

Domesticated Elephants: This animal is widely domesticated, and has been used in forestry in Southeast Asia for centuries and also for use in ceremonial purposes.

Historical sources point out they were sometimes used during the harvest season primarily for milling. Wild elephants attract tourist money to the areas where they can most readily be seen, but damage crops and may enter villages to raid gardens.

Elephant Migration? Elephant herds in the wild follow well defined seasonal migration routes. These are made around the monsoon seasons, often between the wet and dry zones, and it is the task of the eldest to remember and follow the traditional migration routes. When human farms are found in these old routes there is often considerable damage made to crops and it is common for elephants to be killed in the ensuing conflicts.

Long Live the Elephant! Elephants live on average for 60 years in the wild and 80 in captivity. They eat 10% of their body weight each day, which is for adults between 170 - 200 kilos of food per day. They need 80 - 200 liters of water a day and use more for bathing. They sometimes scrape soil for minerals.

Elephant Communication: Elephants use infrasound to communicate and this was first noted by the Indian naturalist M. Krishnan and later studied by Katherine Payne.

All in the Herd:
Female elephants live in small groups. They have a matriarchal society and the group is led by the oldest female. The herd consists of relatives. An individual reaches sexual maturity at
9-15 years.

The gestation period is 18-22 months and they give birth to 1 calf and rarely twins. The calf weighs about 220 lb, (100 kg) and they are suckled for up to 2-3 years. Females stay on with the herd, but males are chased away.


Solitary Males: Bull elephants are usually solitary and they fight over females during the breeding season. Younger bulls may form small groups. Males reach sexual maturity during their 15th year, after which they annually enter "musth". This is a period where the testosterone level is high (up to 60 times greater) and they become extremely aggressive. Secretions containing pheromones occur during this period, from the temporal glands on the forehead.

Big and Dangerous?
An animal of this size is potentially dangerous. Care should be taken when walking or driving at night or in the late evening in areas where wild elephants roam.

Particularly, potential meetings with unpredictable adult males, or females with nearby young, are best avoided. The most dangerous are aggressive, so-called rogue elephants which are usually young solitary bulls.

Elephas maximus is the only surviving species in the Elephas genus; Elephas recki, an even larger species, is extinct.

There are four subspecies of Asian elephant:

* Indian elephant (E. m. indicus) Officially The National Animal of Bharat (Hindustan)
* Sri Lankan elephant (E. m. maximus)
* Sumatran elephant (E. m. sumatrensis)
* Borneo elephant (E. m. borneensis)

The population in Vietnam and Laos is currently undergoing tests to determine if it is a fifth subspecies.

All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License


 Kingdom: Animalia

 Phylum: Chordata

 Class: Mammalia

 Order: Proboscidea

 Family: elephantidae

 Genus: Elephas

 Species: Maximus