As its name suggests, the Sumatran elephant is found exclusively on the Indonesian island of Sumatra. However, the Sumatran elephant population has severely declined as they have lost more than 80% of their natural habitat to deforestation for palm oil plantations.
The Sumatran elephant has smaller ears than the African elephant and the Sumatran elephantalso has a more curved spine than the African elephant. Unlike the African elephants, the female Sumatran elephants very rarely have tusks, and if the female Sumatran elephant does have tusks, they are generally barely visible and can only be seen when the female Sumatranelephant opens her mouth.
WHY THEY MATTER
In 2012, the Sumatran elephant was changed from “Endangered” to “Critically Endangered” because half of its population has been lost in one generation—a decline that is largely due to habitat loss and as a result human-elephant conflict. Sumatra has experienced one of the highest rates of deforestation within the Asian elephant’s range, which has resulted in local extinctions of elephants in many areas. Over two-thirds of its natural lowland forest has been razed in the past 25 years and nearly 70 percent of the Sumatran elephant’s habitat has been destroyed in one generation.
As a result of the rapid development and deforestation in Sumatra, elephants often come into contact with human settlements. They raid crops, trample homes and sometimes even hurt or kill people. Those affected sometimes retaliate and poison or shoot elephants.