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Encyclopedia > Asian elephants
Asian Elephant[1]
Conservation status: Endangered

Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Proboscidea
Family: Elephantidae
Genus: Elephas
Species: E. maximus
Elephas maximus
Linnaeus, 1758
Asian Elephant range
Asian Elephant range

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. 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. The conservation status of a species is an indicator of the likelihood of that species continuing to survive. ... Asian elephant (elephas maximus) Photograph taken on 10 May 2003 by G King at Melbourne Zoo, Victoria, Australia. ... Scientific classification or biological classification is how biologists group and categorize extinct and living species of organisms (as opposed to folk taxonomy). ... Phyla Subregnum Parazoa Porifera (sponges) Subregnum Agnotozoa Placozoa (trichoplax) Orthonectida (orthonectids) Rhombozoa (dicyemids) Subregnum Eumetazoa Radiata (unranked) (radial symmetry) Ctenophora (comb jellies) Cnidaria (coral, jellyfish, anemones) Bilateria (unranked) (bilateral symmetry) Acoelomorpha (basal) Orthonectida (parasitic to flatworms, echinoderms, etc. ... Typical Classes Subphylum Urochordata - Tunicatas Ascidiacea Thaliacea Larvacea Subphylum Cephalochordata - Lancelets Subphylum Myxini - Hagfishes Subphylum Vertebrata - Vertebrates Petromyzontida - Lampreys Placodermi (extinct) Chondrichthyes - Cartilaginous fishes Acanthodii (extinct) Actinopterygii - Ray-finned fishes Actinistia - Coelacanths Dipnoi - Lungfishes Amphibia - Amphibians Reptilia - Reptiles Aves - Birds Mammalia - Mammals Chordates (phylum Chordata) include the vertebrates, together with... Orders Subclass Multituberculata (extinct) Plagiaulacida Cimolodonta Subclass Palaeoryctoides (extinct) Subclass Triconodonta (extinct) Subclass Eutheria (includes extinct ancestors)/Placentalia (excludes extinct ancestors) Afrosoricida Artiodactyla Carnivora Cetacea Chiroptera Cimolesta (extinct) Creodonta (extinct) Condylarthra (extinct) Dermoptera Desmostylia (extinct) Dinocerata (extinct) Embrithopoda (extinct) Hyracoidea Insectivora Lagomorpha Litopterna (extinct) Macroscelidea Mesonychia (extinct) Notoungulata (extinct) Perissodactyla... Groups Jozaria(extinct) Anthracobunidae(extinct) Moeritheriidae(extinct) Euproboscidea Numidotheriidae (extinct) Barytheriidae (extinct) Deinotheriidae (extinct) Elephantiformes Phiomiidae (extinct) Palaeomastodontidae (extinct) Hemimastodontidae (extinct) Euelephantoidea Choerolophodontidae (extinct) Amebelodontidae (extinct) Gnathabelodontidae (extinct) Gomphotheriidae (extinct) Elephantidae Mammutidae (extinct) For the plant genus Proboscidea see, Unicorn plant Proboscidea is an order containing only one family of... Genera and Species Loxodonta Loxodonta cyclotis Loxodonta africana Elephas Elephas maximus Proboscidea is an order including only one extant family, Elephantidae or the elephants, with three species: the Savannah Elephant and Forest Elephant (which were collectively known as the African Elephant), and the Asian Elephant (formerly known as the Indian... Species E. maximus E. recki (extinct) The Elephas genus contains only one surviving member, the Asian Elephant Another species, , once lived in Africa, but has since become extinct. ... In biology, binomial nomenclature is the formal method of naming species. ... Carolus Linnaeus Carl Linnaeus, also known after his ennoblement as , (May 23, 1707 – January 10, 1778), was a Swedish botanist, physician and zoologist[1] who laid the foundations for the modern scheme of nomenclature. ... In biology, a species is the basic unit of biodiversity. ... Genera and Species Loxodonta Loxodonta cyclotis Loxodonta africana Elephas Elephas maximus Elephas recki † Stegodon † Mammuthus † Elephantidae (the elephants) is a family of pachyderm, and the only remaining family in the order Proboscidea. ... Species E. maximus E. recki (extinct) The Elephas genus contains only one surviving member, the Asian Elephant Another species, , once lived in Africa, but has since become extinct. ... Species Loxodonta adaurora(extinct) Loxodonta africana Loxodonta cyclotis Loxodonta is a genus in Elephantidae, the family of elephants. ... World map showing the location of Asia. ... The metre, or meter, is a measure of length, approximately equal to 3. ... A human foot - Enlarge to view legend For other uses, see Foot (disambiguation). ... The international prototype, made of platinum-iridium, which is kept at the BIPM under conditions specified by the 1st CGPM in 1889. ... The pound is the name of a number of units of mass, all in the range of 300 to 600 grams. ...

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.

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. Location of Southeast Asia Southeast Asia is a subregion of Asia. ...



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. This article is about non-human migration. ...

They live on average for 70-80 years, although they may live to 100 years. 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 litres of water a day and use more for bathing. They sometimes scrape soil for minerals. Life span is one of the most important parameters of any living organism. ... Minerals are natural compounds formed through geological processes. ...

Female behaviour

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. A matriarchy is a tradition (and by extension a form of government) in which community power lies with the eldest mother of a community. ... Sexual maturity is the stage at which an organism can reproduce. ... The Gestation period in a viviparous animal refers to the length of its pregnancy. ...

Male behaviour

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 annualy 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. Reproduction is the creation of one thing as a copy of, product of, or replacement for a similar thing, e. ... Musth is a periodic condition in bull elephants, characterized by a thick, tar-like secretion from the temporal ducts and, far more notably, by highly aggressive behaviour. ... Testosterone is a steroid hormone from the androgen group. ... Fanning honeybee exposes Nasonov gland (white-at tip of abdomen) releasing pheromone to entice swarm into an empty hive A pheromone is any chemical produced by a living organism that transmits a message to other members of the same species. ...

Danger of elephants

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. Among the most dangerous are the rogue elephants which have been separated from the rest of the wild herd and tend to be hyper aggressive. When chased by an elephant it is often best to run zig zag as elephants can reach top speeds of up to 50 km/h in a straight line but find it difficult to make sudden turns. Rogue Elephant is a term for a lone, violently aggressive wild elephant, separated from the rest of the herd. ...

In history and religion

A herd of Indian wild elephants in the Jim Corbett National Park, India
A herd of Indian wild elephants in the Jim Corbett National Park, India

The elephant plays an important part in the culture of the subcontinent and beyond featuring prominently in Jataka tales and the Panchatantra. It is also quite venerated and the "blessings" of a temple elephant is sought by Hindus as Lord Ganesha's head is made up of an elephant. It has been used in majestic processions in Kerala where the pachyderms are adorned with festive outfits. They were used by almost all armies in India as war elephants, terrifying opponents unused to the massive beast.. Jim Corbett National Park was Indias first national park, located near Nainital in the state of Uttaranchal. ... The Jataka stories are a significant body of works about the previous lives of Gautama Buddha. ... The Panchatantra (also spelled Pañcatantra, Sanskrit पञ्चतन्त्र Five Chapters , Kelileh va Demneh or Kalilag and Damnag in Persian) is a collection of Sanskrit fables in prose and verse. ... This article is about the Hindu religion; for other meanings of the word, see Hindu (disambiguation). ... Lord Ganesha In Hinduism, Ganesha (Sanskrit: गणेश or श्रीगणेश ( ) (when used to distinguish lordly status) (or lord of the hosts, also spelled as Ganesa and Ganesh, often also referred to as Ganapati) is one of the most well-known and venerated representations of God (Brahman). ... Kerala ((?); Malayalam: കേരളം — ) is a state on the tropical Malabar Coast of southwestern India. ... Indian war elephant, relief at Mathura, 2nd century BC War elephants were important, although not widespread, weapons in ancient military history. ...

In western literature

The Asian elephant figures prominently in The Jungle Book and other writings of Rudyard Kipling, a British writer born in India. French edition, 1957. ... Rudyard Kipling Joseph Rudyard Kipling (December 30, 1865 – January 18, 1936) was a British author and poet, born in India. ...


Elephas maximus is the only surviving species in the Elephas genus; Elephas recki, an even larger species, is extinct. Species E. maximus E. recki (extinct) The Elephas genus contains only one surviving member, the Asian Elephant Another species, , once lived in Africa, but has since become extinct. ... Elephas recki is an enormous, extinct species of elephant. ... In biology and ecology, extinction is the ceasing of existence of a species or group of species. ...

There are four subspecies of Asian elephant:

The population in Vietnam and Laos is currently undergoing tests to determine if it is a fifth subspecies. The Sri Lankan Elephant is from all appearances identical to the Asian Elephant (Elephas maximus) except in one respect – its size. ... The Sumatran Elephant is a subspecies of the Asian Elephant. ...

E. m. indicus survives in separate ranges in southern India, the Himalayan foothills, and northwest India; it is also found in southern China, Burma, Thailand, Cambodia and the Malaysian peninsula. Most males of this subspecies have tusks.
E. m. maximus is only found in Sri Lanka. It has a larger skull relative to body size, and commonly has a decolourised area of skin on the forehead and the front of the upper trunk. It is rare to find even males with tusks. Males can reach a height of 3.5 metres at the shoulder.
E. m. sumatrensis is only found in Sumatra. It is the second smallest subspecies, between 1.7 to 2.6 metres at the shoulder. It is sometimes called the pocket elephant because of its size.
E. m. borneensis is found in north Borneo (east Sabah and extreme north Kalimantan). It is smaller than all the other subspecies. It has larger ears, a longer tail, and straighter tusks. Genetic tests found that its ancestors separated from the mainland population about 300,000 years ago.[2] Perspective view of the Himalaya and Mount Everest as seen from space looking south-south-east from over the Tibetan Plateau. ... Sumatra (also spelled Sumatara and Sumatera) is the sixth largest island of the world (approximately 470,000 km²) and is the 3rd largest island of Indonesia after Kalimantan and New Guinea. ... Borneo and Sulawesi. ...

The extinct Chinese population is sometimes separated as E. m. rubridens (Pink-tusked Elephant); it disappeared after the 14th century BC. The unnamed Syrian population, possibly a separate subspecies (E.m.asurus), disappeared around 100 BC.

Trend of Extinction

It is estimated that by the early 2050s there will no longer be a viable population of Asian elephants. (See National Geographic February 2006).


  1. ^ Shoshani, Jeheskel (November 16, 2005). Wilson, D. E., and Reeder, D. M. (eds) Mammal Species of the World, 3rd edition, 90, Johns Hopkins University Press. ISBN 0-801-88221-4.
  2. ^ Fernando P, Vidya TNC, Payne J, Stuewe M, Davison G, et al. (2003) DNA Analysis Indicates That Asian Elephants Are Native to Borneo and Are Therefore a High Priority for Conservation. PLoS Biol 1(1): e6 Full text
  • Ranjith Bandara and Clem Tisdell (2004), "The net benefit of saving the Asian elephant: a policy and contingent valuation study", Ecological Economics, 48(1) - in Sri Lanka, urban residents' willingness to pay to save the elephant exceeds crop damage by elephants.

See also

// Elephants in daily life The Elephants of Kerala are an integral part of the daily life in Kerala, south India. ... This article needs to be cleaned up to conform to a higher standard of quality. ...

External links

  • ARKive - images and movies of the Asian elephant (Elephas maximus)
  • National Zoo Facts on Asian Elephant and a Webcam of the Asian Elephant exhibit
  • Elephant Nature Park,Northern ThailandPark's Volunteer Site
  • The Chaffee Zoo Asian Elephant Fact Sheet
  • Webcam of Asian Elephants at Munich Zoo Hellabrunn
  • Elephant Information Repository - An in-depth resource on elephants

  Results from FactBites:
Elephant - MSN Encarta (1215 words)
According to Buddhist tradition, the Buddha chose the form of a white elephant as one of his many earthly incarnations, and the rare appearance of a white elephant is still heralded as a manifestation of the gods.
Elephants occupy an array of environments in Africa and Southeast Asia—grasslands, marshes, forests, deserts, and mountains.
Asian elephants are shorter and stockier than their African relatives, with ears that do not reach their shoulders.
Asian Elephant - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (1097 words)
The Asian Elephant (Elephas maximus), sometimes known as by the name of its nominate subspecies the Indian Elephant, is one of the three living species of elephant, and the only living species of the genus Elephas.
The Asian Elephant tends 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.
Elephants live on average for 60 years in the wild and 80 in captivity.
  More results at FactBites »



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