Species: Asian elephant (Elephas maximus)
Status: Endangered (EN)
Interesting Fact: Asian elephants eat up to 150 kilograms of vegetation and defecate up to 18 times a day.
Asian elephants are smaller than their African relatives. Both species of elephant are highly intelligent, long-lived and extremely sociable. Groups of related females are led by the oldest female known as matriarch, while mature males are mostly solitary. At 20 years old, the males start coming into musth, an extreme state of arousal when levels of testosterone in the blood may increase 20 times. Lasting about three weeks, musth causes males to become aggressive and search widely for females.
Once found across southernAsia, numbers of Asian elephants were decimated by habitat loss and hunting throughout their historical range. Elephant populations have become increasingly isolated in the fragmented habitat that remains, and often come into conflict with local farmers. The Asian elephant is protected from international trade, although illegal poaching continues. The World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF) launched the Asian Rhino and Elephant Action Strategy (AREAS) in 1998 to address habitat loss and poaching issues and to work with local people to protect these charismatic animals.
Find out more about the conservation of Asian elephants on the WWF’s Asian Rhino and Elephant Action Strategy (AREAS) website.
Lauren Pascoe, ARKive Researcher