Asian Elephant (DSC_0189)
Little Rock, AR Zoo (2012)
Asian elephants were historically found throughout the continent, from West Asia along the Iranian coast into the Indian subcontinent, eastward into Southeast Asia and China at least as far as the Yangtze River. This giant mammal, formerly occurring over three and a half million square miles, is now extinct in West Asia, Java, and most of China, and survives in isolated pockets scattered across grasslands and tropical forests in thirteen Asian countries.
Asian elephants are herbivores that subsist on a diet of leaves, stems, fruit, grasses, and the bark of many trees and other plants. Much of the species’ habitat has been converted into farmland, so elephants frequently feed on domestic crops, creating serious conflict with humans. The survival of this endangered species depends on figuring out ways to cut down on these sometimes-deadly clashes and preserve adequate habitat for elephants.
•Whereas both male and female African elephants have tusks, in Asian elephants, only the males have them. In some Asian countries, many males also lack tusks.
•Tusks are elongated incisors that grow throughout an elephant’s life and are used in feeding, in displays during social encounters, and as weapons.
•Male Asian elephants can weigh over five tons; females typically weigh less than 3 tons.
•Asian elephants can live up to 80 years in captivity.