Asian Elephant - Elephas Maximus

By : Neha Dhyani

Updated : Mar 14, 2022, 14:44

Elephas Maximus, also known as the Asian Elephant, is regarded as the tallest elephant species in Asia. Asian elephants live in the grasslands, tropical forests, scrub forests, and moist deciduous forests of Southeast Asia. However, nearly one-third of the total Asian elephants live in captivity across reserve forests in India, Myanmar, and Thailand.

The length of Asian Elephants may go up to 20 feet, and their height often ranges between 7 feet and 10 feet. These elephants weigh between 6,000 lbs and 12,000 lbs. The newborns of Asian elephants weigh nearly 200 pounds and are about 3 feet tall. Asian elephants’ gestation period usually lasts for up to 22 months. 

Some Vital Facts about Asian Elephants

Here are the most common facts about Asian elephants:

  1. Since Asian elephants are polygynous, the male and female species exhibit different lifestyles and morphologies.
  2. Asian elephants are regarded as the largest land mammals in India.
  3. Asian elephants generally live in groups of six to seven females, and the oldest female elephant leads the pack. The oldest female is termed the matriarch.
  4. Asian elephant habitats are primarily found in the forested regions of countries in Southeast Asia, including India, Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos, and Thailand.
  5. The three subspecies of Asian elephants are Indian, Sri Lankan, and Sumatran.
  6. The Asian elephant IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) status is ‘Endangered.’
  7. Asian elephants are protected under Schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.
  8. The Asian elephant has been mentioned in Appendix I of the CITES or Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.
  9. Asian elephants are exposed to dangers like habitat loss, human-elephant conflict, fragmentation, and poaching. 
  10. India hosts the largest number of Asian elephants, around 28,000, to be precise. 

What Steps Has the Indian Government Taken to Protect Asian Elephants in India?

Since independence, the Indian government has sponsored many projects to protect Asian elephants within Indian territory. Here are some notable projects are undertaken by the Indian government over the years:

  1. Project Elephant - Project Elephant is a flagship Ministry of Environment and Forests scheme that provides financial assistance to states for protecting Asian elephants. The scheme was launched in February 1992. Project Elephant is implemented in 16 states, including West Bengal, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Kerala, Orissa, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, Meghalaya, Nagaland, and Uttaranchal.
  2. Elephant Reserve and Corridors - The Indian government has earmarked 32 elephant reserves in India. The first elephant reserve in India was Jharkhand’s Singhbhum Elephant Reserve. 
  3. Training and Awareness - The Indian government often organises training camps to sensitise people about the movement of elephants and reduce human-elephant conflicts. 
  4. Operation Thunderbird - The primary goal of Operation Thunderbird is to fight against wildlife crime. The project is operated by the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB). 

Being an endangered species, the Asian Elephant needs proper protection. The Indian government is committed to protecting this species through adequate measures.

World Elephant Day is observed on 12th August every year to inform people about the status of elephants in the world. The event also allows people to understand the importance of elephant conservation amid widespread poaching, mistreatment in captivity, habitat loss, and human-elephant conflict.

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FAQs on Asian Elephants

Q.1) What is the IUCN status of Asian Elephants?

The Asian elephant IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) status is ‘Endangered.’

Q.2) Which is the tallest elephant in Asia?

Elephas maximus, also known as the Asian elephant, is regarded as the tallest elephant species in Asia.

Q.3) What is the habitat of Asian elephants?

Asian elephants live in the grasslands, tropical forests, scrub forests, and moist deciduous forests of Southeast Asia. 

Q.4) How many Asian elephants are left in India?

India hosts the largest number of Asian elephants, around 28,000, to be precise.