By Ashley Abe

The Asian Elephant (Elephas Maximus) is an endangered species of elephant found in, you guessed it, Asia. Numbers have been steadily declining and now there are only as few as 34,000 left in the wild. The biggest effect on elephants are humans, as they destroy their habitat, and poach them for the ivory in their tusks.

Adaptations to Survive in the Wild

Asian elephants are very strong and intelligent. These are some features that help them survive in the wild:

  • Ears- Elephants do not have sweat glands. One way of cooling themselves down is by flapping their ears to fan themselves.
  • Trunks- Trunks have many uses for elephants. They can cool themselves off by spraying water, or protect themselves from the sun by spraying dirt; move large objects and feed themselves.
  • Communication- Elephants make a wide variety of grunts, trumpeting and growling. These sounds are too low pitched, which allows them to communicate without humans hearing them.
  • Tusks- The tusks can be used to dig waterholes, remove bark from trees, uproot trees and as weapons for protection.

Efforts to Help the Asian Elephant

Taronga Zoo is helping to protect the elephants by housing some of their own. Their natural habitats include tropical and subtropical, moist and dry broad leaf forests. In the Taronga Zoo captivity, they are given a big pool to wash and relax in, as well as a couple of tire swings to play with. The ground is barren, so it provides a more realistic view for the elephants.

In the wild, the elephants eat a large variety of plants, grasses, trees and fruits. They can obtain food from everywhere. This is also like in the zoo, whereas the elephants are hand fed, or the food is thrown at them.

Taronga Zoo is helping to protect these giants continuing to study them, as they do not have a great deal of information on them.