Asian Elephant

Parker Coleman

Facts:

Adult elephants can eat as much as 500 lbs of vegetation daily. They tend to eat a lot of twigs, leaves, and grass, sometimes pulling trees out of the ground to "munch" on while migrating. Elephants seem to migrate seasonally, although it usually depends on the amounts of water and food in their area. Sometimes, a herd can migrate over 50 miles. When different herds meet, they are usually very friendly, but sometimes the males can start fights. Instead of traveling with a large group, males travel alone or with other males in a small group. On the other hand, female elephants and young males who haven't reached puberty, stay in large groups, sometimes consisting of more than 40 elephants.

Did You Know?

Did you know that unlike most mammals, elephants can't jump, but they are able to swim submerged underwater for 6 hours with only their trunk up for air?

Physical features:

The average adult Asian elephant weighs about 12,000 pounds, and is about 10 feet tall. In captivity, an Asian elephant lives up to 80 years of age, but in the wild, they only live to be about 60. The elephant's most unique feature is its trunk, a combination of a nose and upper lip. It is used for many things including, eating, drinking, breathing, washing, and greeting. When an elephant drinks water, it first sucks it half-way into the trunk and then squirts it into the mouth. When elephants meet they usually intertwine trunks, almost like a "trunk shake" similar to our hand shake. Another interesting feature are the tusks. Some males and most females don't have any tusks. A tusk is a second tooth that grows in after the baby teeth fall out. They are made of ivory and can be used for digging, lifting objects, and sometimes fighting. The main physical differences between the two types of elephants are that Asian elephants are slightly smaller than African elephants, and have rounder ears.

Did You Know?

Did you know that an elephant's trunk has over 100,000 muscles in it?

Interaction with Humans:

Elephants have been used as work animals for a very long time, pushing heavy loads with their heads, or pulling logs with a rope held in their teeth. They have also been used in wars. Elephants are important in Hinduism, mostly because of the elephant-headed god Ganesha. They are sometimes used in temples, dressed in gold, as if carrying the deity on their backs. Unfortunately, the Asian elephant is an endangered species, due mostly to poaching and habit loss. They are also illegally captured and put to work, as well as killed by farmers when the elephants raid crops. Due to these problems, there are only about 50,000 Asian elephants alive.

Bibliography

Dalal, Roshen et al Eyewitness travel: India. London: Dorling Kindersley, limited, 2002.


Britannica Encyclopedia. "elephant" Encyclopedia Britannica Article. 29 April 2013.

http://school.eb.com/all/comptons/article-9274152


National Geographic "Asian Elephant"

http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/mammals/asian-elephant/