A guide about Asian elephants!

Asian Elephants 101

Asian Elephants 101
01/22/20

When most people go to a zoo or see a cute elephant video on the internet, they probably don’t stop and think about what kind of elephant that is. In the wild, there are two different kinds of elephant, the African and Asian elephant. Even though they are miles away, they are related. 

Get to know some of the differences between African and Asian elephants. As well as why this elephant species is on the endangered list. 

Location

By looking at the names of elephants, you can distinguish where they both live. An Asian elephant, as their name indicates, lives in Asia. They typically live in forests in India and Southeast Asia like Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia and Laos. Asian elephants are forest animals, though they can live in grasslands. 

One thing to note is that a third of Asian elephants are in human care. It means that these animals are  in zoos, conservation areas or tourist attractions. In the wild, there are an estimated 20,000 to 40,000 Asian elephants. According to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), these species of elephants are classified as endangered, meaning they are at high risk of becoming extinct. 

Appearance 

Many people don’t know the difference between African and Asian elephants other than their locations. You can tell them apart from their ears and size! Asian elephants have smaller ears compared to African elephants, who have wide ears and resemble the African continent. 

Elephants might be the largest mammals on land, but the African elephant is the largest out of the two different species. Asian elephants stand at 6 to 12 feet tall. Males are usually much taller than females. Asian elephants can weigh on average between 6,000 to 12,000 pounds. 

Subspecies 

Just like African elephants, Asian elephants also have subspecies. Researchers found that there are three different types of Asian elephants: Indian, Sumatran and Sri Lankan. The Indian Asian elephant is the most commonly seen on the continent. Sumatran Asian elephants are the smallest out of the Asian elephants. Lastly, Sri Lankan Asian elephants are the largest and have the darkest skin color. 

Diet 

Elephants are herbivores that typically live in forests and grassland regions have lots of vegations. Meals for these large mammals consist of grasses, roots, tree bark and bushes. One thing to note is that these animals are not light eaters. Asian elephants can eat up to 300 pounds in one day! That is why these elephants are constantly moving and looking for their next meal. 

Threats 

Asian elephants are facing threats like deforestation, human conflict, poaching and even trafficking that has put them on the endangered list. Deforestation and agricultural development has left Asian elephants without homes or food. The lack of space has led these elephants to cause conflicts with humans. 

On top of those threats, Asian elephants also get hunted for their ivory. Mainly the male elephants get poached because they have tusks, unlike the female Asian elephants. While the younger elephants sometimes get trafficked to other countries for tourism attractions.

There is still so much more that we can learn from both African and Asian elephants. If you would like to help contribute to elephant research, donate to For Elephants. Every dollar makes a difference when saving elephants!

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