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Asiatic Elephant [ Elephus Maximus] The elephant belongs to the natural order proboscidea that possess a proboscis or a trank as their distinguishing physical feature. There are two species of elephants, the Indian and the African elephants. The Indian type is much smaller in size, ears, and it is only the male elephant that has tasks as compared to the African one where both the sexes possess tasks.


  • HABITAT : Elephant prefer hilly areas covered with dense forests. Green bamboo and grass is an added advantage. They are extremely adaptable and are at home both in a steamy humid forests or a cool elevated one. They also have a great affinity for water and will visit a pool or a stream at least once in a stay. Given a choice they also do not hesitate to say crops during of their natural food.
  • HABITS : A male elephant’s most prized possession is the tasks. However, adults male without tasks are also found in the wild that are known as makhnas. Female possess tusks. Tusks help in removing the bark of a tree, which is later eatern. In addition, it serves as a lethal weapon during a male-male combat in the breeding season. Elephants live in herds except for the adult bull that is mostly solitary. The leader of the herd is a female, usually the oldest and the wisest of the lot. The size of herds can vary from 3-30 or mere animals. When undisturbed, the herd pursues and regular and order routine of drinking, bathing and feeding in accustomed places and lying to rest in its usually retreat.
  • LOCOMOTION : The entire body of the elephant is physically modified to support the great increase in size. Its pillar as if limbs support the enormous weight of the body, while a thick pad beneath each foot ensures a comfortable support. The animal is not built for speed but its strong footage gives it access in steep climbs in rocky terrain as well.
  • FOOD : Elephants make large demands on the environment. On an average, an adult male of any size consumes about 200 kg, of green fodder every day and probably wasters an equal amount in the process. They spend more than 12 hours a day feeding and the choice of food plants varies considerably with season, although bamboo, grasses and leaves of certain trees are always included in the regular diet. During famines, elephants are known to strip the bark off certain trees. This possibly provides them with the essential nutrients that are not available otherwise. They also include a significant amount of salt in their diet.

  • COURTSHIP : Adult males lead a free, unattached existence sometimes forming ‘loose’ bachelor parties of their own. Sometimes they are subject to peculiar periodical paroxysms of excitement. At such times they are spoken of being in ‘musth.’ Its condition also has some connections with the sexual functions. During this time, the male becomes extremely restless and aggressive. It will not only stay close to a herd but also will challenge the resident bulls for a combat. However, a male does not necessarily need to be in musth to breed.
  • OFFSPRING : With a questation period of 20-22 months, and an inter-calving interval of 4-5 years, the reproductive rate in elephants is rather low. One calf is born at a time though; in rare instances, twins are also produced. The cow is assisted by other experienced females during childbirth.
  • BREEDING : Both male and female elephants become sexually mature around the age of 12-15 years. When several old bulls usually get a chance to mate only after the age of 25 years. The chances of successful mating increase with the size and age of the bull.
  • PARENTAL CARE : Elephant take great care of their young. They have a matriarchal society and normally a herd comprises of a nucleus of 2-3 mature cows, sub-adult animals still moving with their mothers and the calves. The basic unit consists of a cow with its unearned calf. These calves are jealously guarded by their mothers and tigers seldom have the opportunity to take them.

  • PREDATOR : The elephant really has any predators except for the tiger, which occasionally forays upon an elephant calf. In recent years, elephants have become endangered because of heavy poaching by man. Elephant tusks are highly priced because of the ivory that is obtained from them. There is an international ban on ivory trade yet clandestine markets dealing with artifacts made out of ivory flourish
  • ANCESTRY : The Asian elephant is believed to have descended from elephants, hysulricus, whose Fossil remains has been discovered in the Shiwalik hills of north India. The genus elephas itself is believed to have evolved in the African continent about million years ago and radiated in to Asia. They are possibly the result of a gradual deviation from a hairy creature about 3-5 feet and called the Moeritherium.
  • NUMBERS : As compared to their uniform distribution in the past, today elephants occur as four major disjointed populations in India. The largest population of Asian elephant is estimated at between 6,300-10,400 for south India, followed by 900-10,000 in the northeast, 700-1,000 in north India and 2,500-3,000 in central India. What is worrying is the loss and fragmentation of habitat and the consequent isolation of these populations.
  • MYTHS : For an Indian, the elephant is part of the history, tradition, myths and culture and in many outlying areas very much a part of his life. They are worshipped as the incarnation of Lord Ganesha in the Hindu Religion, while for Buddhist, it symbolizes the enlightened one. In Northern Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, it is still the most converted status symbol among the landed gentry. In South India, a temple’s importance is measured by the number of elephants in its possession for some tribes in the North. East just another animal lives as part of the household.