All About the Asian Elephant

The Asian Elephant is a social animal that’s also intelligent.

Unlike the African Elephant, this species doesn’t always grow tusks. When it does, they are often much smaller.

What You Should Know

The Asian elephant is found in southeastern and southern Asia. It’s found from India to Thailand, all the way to southern China. The Asian elephant has three subspecies: Indian, Sumatran, and Sri Lankan.

The Asian elephant is sociable. You will find the majority of females in a group of six or seven other females that are related. This herd is led by the matriarch of the group. Sometimes, this tight unit will join with others to create a larger gathering.

The majority of the elephant’s day is spent eating grass. Aside from that, the Asian elephant also eats tree bark, leaves, roots, and small stems. When they find bananas, sugarcane, and rice, it’s just an added treat. The elephant tries to stay close to a water source so it can drink at least once each day.

What Sound Do They Make?

Asian elephants use low-pitched sounds to communicate over long distances. Most humans can’t hear the sound easily. These infrasonic sounds are understood by other elephants over two miles away.

Listen to some of the rumbling noises an elephant makes.

Group Characteristics

The female Asian elephant gives birth to a single calf (rarely twins) every 2.5 to four years. Each one of these calves weighs approximately 150 to 350 pounds. It only takes a few months for the calf to start eating foliage and grass. It remains with the mother for a few years and then begins making moves to become independent around four years old.

How Many are There?

At the beginning of the 20th century, there were over 100,000 Asian elephants. Numbers have dropped by more than 50% since then and remain on the decline.

The Asian elephant was once allowed to roam around Asia, but now only has 15% of its original range. The biggest threat to them is the loss of habitat. As Asia continues converting the area into farmland, the elephant loses its home. This leaves the elephant to raid the farmer’s crops and damage the fields, which puts humans at odds with it.

The Asian elephant still endures poaching and capture as well. It’s not as prominent as with the African elephant, but it’s a problem, especially near Thailand.

Watch a Video

Watch this video to learn more about Asian elephants.

If you want to learn more about the differences between an Asian elephant vs. an African elephant, this video helps.

Pop Culture

Elephants are a popular fixture in movies and animation. You can see Bill Murray star with an elephant in Larger than Life from 1996. He’s a motivational speaker that inherits an elephant when his clown father dies. In The Jungle Book, we also see a herd of elephants that go by the name Jungle Patrol.

Interesting Facts

The Asian elephant is smaller than African elephants. It has smaller ears, which continuously move to keep it cool.

Asian elephants survive 60 to 70 years in the wild, but almost half of them will die before they reach 15 years old.

Young males don’t join the herd. They prefer to travel by themselves or join up with a few other males during travel.