Asian elephants are smaller in size than their African relatives and have smaller, angular ears. Only male Asian elephants will grow tusks. In some areas they have lost them completely.
Female elephants live in herds with their offspring and are led by a matriarchal female. The matriarch will lead the herd to the best places for food and water. Once mature, males leave the herd and either live alone or form small bachelor herds with other males.
Asian elephants breed, on average, seven times during their lifetime with intervals of between four and six years between births. After mating the female is pregnant for almost two years. The calf will then suckle for up to three years. If it is a female then it will remain in the group for its lifetime.
Elephants are the largest herbivorous animals in the world. Their diet consists mainly of grasses, trees, leaves and shrubs. Their four big grinding teeth are strong enough to bite through logs! These teeth are crucial to consume all the vegetation an elephant eats – so, unlike us, they cannot lose baby teeth to get a new set. Instead their teeth grow in sections which can break off gradually. An Asian elephant will have six sets of teeth throughout it’s lifetime.
The biggest threat facing Asian elephants is habitat destruction for agriculture or housing. Elephants will still enter these areas and may eat crops. This causes human-elephant conflict and many elephants are shot by farmers and villagers.
- Conservation Status: Endangered
- Distribution: Southern East Asia
- Habitat: Coniferous & Broadleaf Forests, Grassland, Tropical Forest
- Diet: Grasses, Leaves
- Height: 3 metres
- Weight: 2500 - 5000kg
- Gestation: 18 - 23 months
- No. of young: 1
- Life Span: 60 years