Elephants come in all shapes and sizes! Can you name all three species of elephants? According to wildlife experts, there are three species of elephants - the African savanna elephant, African forest elephant and Asian elephant.
Something that separates the three species of elephants is that Asian elephants are the only elephant species with subspecies. African savanna elephants and African forest elephants are considered separate species due to their genes.
Subspecies are subgroups within a species with different characteristics from each other, as recognized by scientists. Our team is here to share the subspecies of Asian elephants, and some of the differences are between them.
The subspecies of Asian Elephants
One of the most recognized subspecies of Asian elephants is the Indian elephant. They account for the majority of Asian elephants. These elephants are smaller in size compared to the African elephants. The average Indian elephant bull (male) can grow about 21 feet long and 10 feet tall.
Their ears are also notably smaller and grow about five feet. These elephants have a lighter skin pigmentation - ranging from greyish to black.
Due to habitat loss, human-elephant conflict, fragmentation and poaching, Indian elephants are currently listed as endangered. The IUCN's Red List reports around 26,000 to 30,000 Indian elephants are left in the world.
The Sumatran elephants are considered to be the smallest subspecies of Asian elephants. They can grow to be about 10 feet tall and 20 feet long. Sumatran elephants are only found on the Sumatran Islands in Indonesia. They are the largest land mammal in Indonesia. The mountain area and coastal lowland forests are their home.
A Sumatran elephant’s location is not the only thing that distinguishes them from other Asian elephants. This kind of elephant is different in appearance. It has a much lighter skin pigmentation than other Asian elephants and is nearly bald. Their lighter skin has helped them blend in with the environment.
Although their lighter skin gives them an advantage in the wild, their populations are decreasing. The Sumatran elephants are currently listed as critically endangered. Deforestation, habitat loss and human-elephant conflict are to blame for decreasing numbers. There are about 2,400 to 2,800 Sumatran elephants left in the world.
Sri Lankan elephants
The third subspecies of Asian elephants are the Sri Lanka elephants. These elephants are considered to be the largest and darkest subspecies of Asian elephants. The average size that an adult Sri Lankan elephant gets is 11.5 feet tall.
These elephants are found on the Island of Sri Lanka - it is located off the southern coast of India. Sri Lankan elephants once live throughout the whole island, but now their population is concentrated in the lowland regions.
As of right now, Sri Lankan elephants are endangered. Deforestation and human-elephant conflicts have caused these elephant populations to decrease. There are 2,500 to 4,000 Sri Lankan elephants left in the world. These elephants are currently protected under the Sri Lankan Law that puts the death penalty on anyone who kills one of these elephants.
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