The Asian Elephant is the biggest of all mammals in Asia and is crucial to the forest ecosystem. These wonderful mammals are extremely intelligent and live in large social groups that are dotted across Asia. As with too many species in today’s world the Asian Elephants are walking the path to extinction thanks to loss of habitat, poaching and becoming the victims of angry villagers who are protecting their crops at all costs, killing these elephants without a second thought.
The Asian Elephant’s are large heavy built mammals who wield a powerful trunk and boasts the title of largest mammal in the whole of Asia. Smaller than the African elephant the Asian Elephant can be easily distinguished from its cousin by taking not of the curved back, smaller ears and unique dual dome type structures on its head. The Asian Elephant’s are of a gray/brown color and are covered in thin coarse hairs with a trunk that differs slightly from the African elephant. On occasion the Asian Elephant may be spotted with pink blotches on its skin usually around the face, these are common skin pigment deficiencies. The male Asian Elephant’s are often much larger than the females and can but up to twice the size. Female Asian Elephant’s may also lack tusks completely.
The Asian Elephant can be found usually in grassy plains of woodland in large social groups. The family groups consist of related females and their offspring being led by a single mature female called a ‘matriarch’, these groups work together and often take care of each others young showing just how close knit these family ties are between the Asian Elephant’s. Elephants can live to around the age of 70 with males becoming sexually mature at around the age of 7 and females slightly after at around 10 years of age. Females elephants are capable of giving birth every 3 – 4 years and will be actively searched for by sexually active males for mating, as once a male reaches sexual maturity he leaves the family group.
When male Asian Elephant’s reach the age of 20 they come into a phase locally known as ‘musth’ in which they become extremely sexually around and will seek females relentlessly. Musth however causes a large boost in testosterone levels causing the males to become very aggressive often resulting in them being slain by humans.
Asian Elephant tend to eat in the twilight periods and spend their days resting. Their diet consists mainly of grass, vines, bark and leaves but extents to human cultivated crops and fruit which causes a high level of conflict between Asian Elephant and farmers. Asian Elephant’s play a vital role in the forest ecosystem from digging up water holes that other animals will use and even the paths they make through the forest act as fire breakers. It would be a catastrophic loss if these titanic elephants were to become extinst and with numbers dropping to between 35 – 50,000 left in the world it is indeed a possibility.