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Asian Elephant

Asian Elephant
© www.pgoimages.com
Photographer: Per-Gunnar Ostby of www.pgoimages.com

Asian Elephant
© www.pgoimages.com
Photographer: Per-Gunnar Ostby of www.pgoimages.com

Asian Elephant Range Map (S & S E Asia)
Asian Elephant Range Map (S & S E Asia)
Latin Name Elephas maximus
Conservation Status Endangered
Location S & S E Asia
Colour Grey/Brown
Length Up to 3.5 m (11 ft)
Tail 1 - 1.5 m (3.25 - 5 ft)
Weight 2 - 5 tonnes (2 - 4.9 tons)
Life Expectancy

70 yrs

Main Characteristics

The Asian Elephant is the smallest species of elephant. They have a body length up to 3.5 m (11 ft), they have a tail length between 1 and 1.5 m (3.25 - 5 ft) and they weigh between 2 and 5 tonnes (2 - 4.9 tons).

The have thick, dry skin that is grey/brown in colour and they have a sparse covering of hair. Their ears are large, although they are much smaller than those of the african elephant. They have a rounded back, four toenails on each hind foot and a long trunk with a single process at the tip which is used for picking up small objects.

They have small tusks and these may be absent in females. If tusks are present in females they are known as tushes, and they are only usually seen when the female opens her mouth. Some males may also lack tusks and they are known as makhnas, these are especially common among the Sri Lankan subspecies.


Asian Elephants are found in grassy areas and at the edge of scrub forests in south and south east Asia.

They live in herds made up of related females and their young. The herd is directed by the eldest female known as the matriarch. Males leave the herd when they reach adolescence and form herds with other elephants of the same age. Later on they spread out and live alone, approaching females only during the breeding season.

Males have home ranges which are approximately 15 sq. kms (5.8 sq. miles) where as the home ranges of female herds is in the region of 30 sq. kms (11.6 sq. miles). These ranges increase in size during the dry season.


Asian Elephants feed on a variety of vegetation. They eat grasses, vines, bamboo, fruits, roots, bark, leaves, and shrubs.

Their average intake of vegetation per day is 150 kgs (330 lbs) and they need to drink water each day with their average intake being 140 ltrs (30 gallons).


After a gestation period of 18 - 22 months a single calf is born. At birth the calf weighs approximately 100 kgs (220 lbs) and is able to stand shortly after being born. After a few days they are able to follow their mother around as she carries out her daily activities. They suckle from her, or other lactating females in the herd, for 18 - 24 months but when they are a few months old they also supplement their diet by eating some vegetation.

Females have a 3 - 4 year birthing interval and they reach sexual maturity at 9 - 15 years of age. Males reach sexual maturity at the same age but they cannot mate until they can challenge other adult males. Females remain with their mother's herd for life, but males leave and form bachelor herds.


Humans are the main predator of adult Asian Elephants but tigers are known to prey upon calves.


There are four subspecies of Asian Elephant:

Indian Elephant
(Elephas maximus indicus)
Conservation Status: Endangered
They are found in India, China, Burma, Thailand, Cambodia and the Malaysian Peninsula. Most males of this subspecies have tusks.

Sri Lankan Elephant
(Elephas maximus maximus)
Conservation Status: Endangered
They are found in Sri Lanka and it is rare to find even males with tusks.

Sumatran Elephant
(Elephas maximus sumatrensis)
Conservation Status: Endangered
They are found on the island of Sumatra and they are the second smallest subspecies. They are sometimes called the "pocket elephant" because of their size.

Borneo Elephant
(Elephas maximus borneensis)
Conservation Status: Critically Endangered
They are also known as the Borneo Pygmy Elephant. They are found in north Borneo and they are the smallest subspecies.

Interesting Facts

Asian Elephants are also known as:
Asiatic Elephant
Indian Elephant

Asian Elephants have been captured from the wild and tamed for use by humans. They are/have been used for carrying heavy objects, used in ceremonies and used during wars.

Similar Animals

African Elephant
African Forest Elephant


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