Everything You Need To Know About Asian Elephants

Asian elephants occur as the name suggests on the Asian continent. They are popular in zoos and circuses, and in the wild they live in tropical forests.
Everything you need to know about Asian elephants

Asian elephants are large mammals that live in rainforests. They are strong and noble animals, and are especially striking because of their behavior. Despite their size, they do not sleep much, and they love to wash themselves with their long proboscis.

The Asian elephant ( Elephas maximus ) has been used by humans for a long time. Elephants used to be used to move heavy objects, transport people and even fight in wars.

Asian elephants are calm and social creatures. They travel long distances to find food and play an important role in several Asian cultures. Discover more about this symbolic animal below.

The behavior of the Asian elephant

The Asian elephant is a mammal in the elephant family and plays an important cultural role on the Asian continent. They occur from southern China to the Persian Gulf and southern Mesopotamia.

The species lives in the following Asian countries: Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Sumatra, Borneo, India, south of the Himalayas and near the Yangtze River. They prefer open areas with low vegetation and a lot of shrubs.

In India , people take advantage of the strength of Asian elephants to move building materials, for example. Indian Hinduism has also portrayed some as gods, such as the god Ganesha.

Indian elephant at exotic building

Physical characteristics of the Asian elephant

Compared to its African relative, the Asian elephant is slightly smaller, as it can reach a height of between 2 and 3.4 meters, while the African species have an average height of 4 meters. The female is pregnant for up to 22 months. When an elephant is born, it can already weigh about 100 kg.

The Asian elephant has a large head, a short neck, a muscular trunk and coarse legs. The ears are smaller than in the African elephant, and are more round in shape and do not cover the shoulders. The back is bent upwards and it has a long tail and thick, oily skin.

The elephants are also characterized by their pastures, which are large and long in the males while the females have rudimentary pastures or none at all. They also have four large cheek teeth.

Types of Asian elephants

There are two distinct subspecies:

  1. Borneo elephants. This is the smallest subspecies of Asian elephant. It has a long tail, thin pastures and wide ears. It occurs mainly on the island of Borneo and in the jungles of the Malaysian state of Sabah.
  2. Sri Lankan elephant. This is the largest subspecies of Asian elephant. Some have a height of over 3 meters and weigh over 6 tons, and they only live in Sri Lanka.

What do Asian Elephants Eat?

The adults eat a lot of roots, fruits, herbs, bark and shrubs. They can eat up to 135 kg of food per day.  Eating is what they mostly do all day. They eat morning, afternoon and evening.

For the Asian elephant, water serves two purposes. First of all, it likes to stay close to water sources with its flock so that it can drink up to 140 liters every day. Secondly, it bathes and washes itself in the water with the help of its trunk. It sucks in the water and sprays it over the back.

Elephants in Asian culture

Asian elephants have contributed much to Asian culture through the generations. In the past, for example, they played an important role in war.

Unfortunately, humans sometimes treat these elephants badly. We take advantage of their strength for incredibly hard work. In some countries they are also used as a tourist attraction, and they are often neglected as a result. All this has led to a decrease in their population in the wild.

Two asian elephants playing

Asian governments have now opened their eyes to this and have introduced rules aimed at protecting and respecting Asian elephants, as they are considered endangered.

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