ASIAN ELEPHANT/Behaviour, Distribution, Habitat, Size, Weight, IUCN stetus


DESCRIPTION: The largest land mammal in India, the Asian Elephant’s grey wrinkled skin, long trunk and sail-like ears make it one of the most easily recognized animals. It has a convex or humped back with a ridge along the spine, a double-domed forehead, wedge-shaped ears and a smooth trunk ending in one tip or ‘finger’. Only male Asian Elephants have largetusks, while females have very small dental protuberances called tushes. Some
males, called makhnas, are tusk-less and can be distinguished in the field from adult females by the penis bulge below the tail. Young calves can be aged by their relative height compared to their mothers while older elephants can be aged by the amount of ear fold, sinking of the temple and depigmentation.

BEHAVIOUR: Elephants move over long distances in search of food and water, or for security, and use the same forest corridors for many hundreds of years. This
is because the elephant is a mega herbivore and, due to its size, requires a huge amount of forage every day. If it were to feed in one forest all year round, the forest would be destroyed. Elephants, therefore, move in search of food, allowing the forest to regenerate in their absence, and return cyclically. If these corridors
are blocked, they enter human settlements. Elephants are also attracted to human settlements by crop or by crude-alcohol distilleries that they can smell from miles away.

DISTRIBUTION: In the plains of north, south, east–central and north–east India
in four clusters. In the south, they are found in the Western Ghats and some
adjoining hill ranges of the Eastern Ghats in the states of Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil
Nadu and Andhra Pradesh. In east–central or south–east India, elephants are found primarily in the states of Odisha and Jharkhand, with seasonal movement into southern West Bengal and Chhattisgarh. The elephants in northern India are found in a wide belt along the Himalayan foothills in the states of Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand. The elephants in north–east India are discontinuously distributed in 15 discrete subpopulations from western Assam, along the Himalayan foothills up to the Mishmi Hills, and the eastern floodplains of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh. The distribution then takes a ‘U’ turn and covers eastern Arunachal Pradesh, the plains of eastern Assam and the foothills of Nagaland. Further west, it extends up to the Garo Hills of Meghalaya through the Khasi Hills, parts of the Brahmaputra plains and the Karbi hills.

HABITAT: A generalist, it uses mixed deciduous and evergreen forests, scrub,
floodplains and grassland.

Size: 245–275 cm, 

Wt: 3,000–5,400 kg

IUCN Status: Endangered


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