Also known as the Asian elephant, the Indian Elephant is a gentle giant.
Often tamed for use as a load-bearing animal, elephants are prized for their
immense strength, their sedate nature when tamed and are worshipped in India
as an incarnation of the elephant headed god Ganesha. Tame elephants are
often kept in temples in India and bear the images of the gods in temple
processions on festive days. Elephants have been used historically in India
as the mounts of rulers, and as a part of warfare.
The Indian Elephant is found across India in protected
forests and in Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Myanmar.
It is estimated that there are over 28,000
Indian Elephants in India, including zoos and animal parks.
Elephants are the largest of all mammals
on land. The Indian elephant is smaller than the African elephant, however
it can grow up to 11 feet tall and weigh up to 5 tons. The elephant's
brain is the heaviest of all land mammals and can weigh up to 5 Kg. Elephants
have large ears, are covered with gray hairy skin, and are characterized
by their long trunks which can be used in a number of ways including for
breathing, to suck in water or food, to lift and pull objects, and to
make trumpeting noises and other sounds for communication. All male Indian
elephants do not have tusks. Elephants that do have large tusks are hunted
by poachers who seek the tusks for their ivory. The tusks, which are elongated
incisor teeth, are used for digging, pushing and fighting with other male
elephants. The molar teeth which elephants use for chewing are located
within their mouths and are replaced as they get worn out, until about
The Indian Elephant is found in the wild in densely forested
areas of India including the tropical forests of South India, North East
India and the sub Himalayan region. Also known as the Asian Elephant it
is found in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, Thailand, Malaysia,
Myanmar, Viet Nam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos and China.
Elephants are herbivorous creatures and spend a large amount
of time everyday eating up to 300 Kg of vegetation, including grass, leaves,
fruit and the bark of trees. The length of an elephant's digestive system
is around 100 feet. Elephants that are tamed are fed on leaves, sugarcane,
bananas and rice gruel.
Elephants have a complex social structure. In the wild
they live in family groups led by mature female elephants, their young and
sometimes older bull elephants. Mature male elephants are often solitary
or live in small groups of male elephants only. Elephants live up to 70
years old and can sleep while standing. Tame elephants are made to sit or
lie down while its trainer or mahout attends to it, in the wild however
an elephant will not lie down unless it is sick.
Elephants enjoy wallowing in water, which helps clean their skin, which
does not have any sweat glands. Adult male elephants around the age of
20 undergo a phase of heightened sexual urge known as "musth."
Male elephants become aggressive and violent for a phase lasting up to
60 days. This phase recurs periodically through an adult male elephant's
life. Female elephants can bear young around the age of 16. Usually one,
but sometimes two, offspring are born at a time. Elephants give birth
to about 4 young ones over a span of 60 years. Elephants communicate through
a variety of noises, including infrasonic sounds, which are inaudible
to human beings.