Asian Elephant - Lifespan, Facts, Conservation

By : Neha Dhyani

Updated : Feb 1, 2023, 11:59

Asian Elephant, scientifically known as the Elephas Maximus, is regarded as the tallest elephant species in Asia. This elephant species 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 2,700 kg and 4,000 kg. We have shared more details about these elephants here.

About Asian Elephant

Asian Elephants are a magnificent species of elephants found in the Indian Subcontinent and parts of Southeast Asia. It is the largest mammal that lives on land in Asia. The newborns of Asian elephants weigh nearly 200 pounds and are about 3 feet tall. The length of these elephants can go up to 20 feet.

Asian elephants are an endangered species listed on the IUCN Red List. Efforts to conserve this unique elephant species are being made every day. Here is an overview of this stunning elephant species.

Species

Asian Elephant

Scientific Name

Elephas Maximus

Found In

Indian Subcontinent, Nepal, Borneo, Sumatra

Average Height

2.4 to 2.8 m

Average Weight

2,700 to 4,000 kg

Average Lifespan

48 years

Characteristics of Asian Elephant

Asian elephants have unique characteristics, which usually differ between male and female. For example, only male elephants have tusks in this species. The physical characteristics also differ between the male and female elephants of this species. Here, we have shared the details of the characteristics of the Asian elephant:

Characteristics

Male

Female

Weight

4,000 kg

2,700 kg

Height

2.8 m

2.4 m

Trunk size

2 m

1.5 m

Lifespan of Asian Elephant

The average lifespan of the Asian elephant is estimated to be 48 years. Of course, the lifespan of an elephant from this species can differ based on the conditions in which the elephant is bred and kept. As most Asian elephants are bred in captivity, they tend to have a less-than-average lifespan.

The oldest recorded lifespan of an Asian elephant was 61 years. An elephant of this species in the Los Angeles Zoo named Jewel was struggling with deteriorating health at 61 years and was euthanized by the zoo officials in January 2023.

Threats Faced by Asian Elephant

Being a unique species, the Asian elephant faces several threats. We have listed down some of the threats faced by this animal species here:

  • Poaching - Asian elephants are hunted for ivory found in elephant tusks. Although it has reduced, this illegal activity still continues in many parts of the world.
  • Habitat Loss - The human need for expansion of our urban territories has led to a significant decline in the population of this amazing elephant species.
  • Elephant Skin - The skin of the Asian elephant is used in traditional Chinese medicine. The crisis of the skinning of this elephant species still persists and threatens the existence of the species.

Conservation of Asian Elephants in India

Being an endangered species, the Asian Elephant needs proper protection. The Indian government is committed to protecting this species through adequate measures. Since independence, the Indian government has sponsored many projects to protect Asian elephants within the Indian territory. Here are some notable projects 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.
  2. Project Elephant is implemented in 16 states to protect the Asian Elephant. The states include West Bengal, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Kerala, Orissa, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, Meghalaya, Nagaland, and Uttaranchal.
  3. 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.
  4. Training and Awareness - The Indian government often organizes training camps to sensitize people about the movement of Asian elephants and reduce human-elephant conflicts.
  5. 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).

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.

Asian Elephants - Facts

Some interesting facts about Asian elephants are shared here:

  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. This elephant species 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. This elephant species is protected under Schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.
  7. India hosts the largest number of Asian elephants. The total number of Asian elephants found in the Indian subcontinent is around 28,000.

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FAQs on Asian Elephant

Q1. Where are Asian elephants found?

Asian elephants are found in the Indian subcontinent and parts of southeastern Asia. Some of the southeastern Asian countries where the Asian elephant is found include Nepal, Borneo, and Sumatra. In India, the elephant species is found in Punjab, Karnataka, and Gujarat.

Q2. How many Asian elephants are left in the world?

The population of the Asian elephant is steadily declining in the world. It is estimated that there are only 40,000 to 50,000 Asian elephants left in the world. This is one of the largest mammal species on land. It is most commonly found in the Indian subcontinent and parts of southeastern Asia.

Q3. Is the Asian elephant an endangered species?

Yes, the Asian elephant is an endangered species and is marked on the IUCN Red List. The International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species lists down the species that is prone to extinction, and the Asian elephant is marked on the list.

Q4. What is special about Asian elephants?

Asian elephants are considered special because they are the largest terrestrial mammals in India. The height of an Asian elephant can grow up to 20 feet but ranges between 7 to 10 feet. Moreover, the weight of the elephant can range between 2,700 kg in females and 4,000 kg in males.

Q5. How many Asian elephants are left in India?

There are around 28,000 Asian elephants left in India. Although the number seems small, India is home to the largest number of Asian elephants in the entire world. Other parts of Southeast Asia where the Asian elephant is found have a very little number of elephants.