About Asian Elephant
Widely distributed across India
5.5-6.40m (tip of trunk to tip of tail)
Male: 3500 - 6000kg; Female: 2500 - 4000kg
Did you know?
Elephants spend about 16 hours a day eating. They require approximately 150-200 kgs of food and up to 200 litres of water each day.
Females live in a matriarchal society made up of related individuals. These large extended families are called clans, consisting of smaller sub-units called kin groups and family units. Clans sometimes assemble in feeding grounds or around waterholes to form large herds. Adult bulls are mainly solitary but form temporary associations with other males and join female groups primarily for mating. During a period known as 'musth', males exhibit a period of heightened sexual activity annually. The testosterone levels can be 20 times their normal range during this period. During musth, males secrete a fluid that has a distinct odour from a gland in the temporal area between the eyes and ears. Older males also dribble urine during musth which has a powerful pungent odour. These odours are primarily used to signal other elephants about the male's status. During musth, besides exhibiting high sexual drive, males show increased aggression and wander extensively in search of oestrous females.
Females become sexually mature at 15, depending on their nutrition intake. Males between the ages of 9 and 13 disperse from the matriarchal group and establish their independent home range. Although males are also sexually mature at this age, they cannot compete for mates until much older.
A single calf is born after a gestation of 18 to 22 months and is nursed for two to four years. Although a calf is naturally attached to its mother, other females, especially sub-adult females in the group, care for the calf, too – a phenomenon referred to as allomothering. Males and females can live up to 60-70 years in the wild.
Habitat and distribution
Indians have long been associated with captive elephants that go back 4,000-5,000 years and have developed strong cultural and religious links with these mega-herbivores. This makes elephants excellent flagship species in generating public support for conservation. Due to their diverse habitats and large home ranges, elephants help protect the biodiversity within their scope. Even with their large dietary requirements, they significantly impact the trees and other vegetation, resulting in their habitat modifications. Thus, their conservation could help maintain large forest tracts' biological diversity and ecological integrity.