SPECIES ELEPHAS MAXIMUS
In general, the Asian elephant is smaller than the African elephant and has the highest body point on the head. The back is convex or level. The ears are small with dorsal borders folded laterally. The feet have more nail-like structures than those of African elephants – five on each forefoot, and four on each hind foot. Unlike African elephants, female Asian elephants do not have tusks, they have little stubby ivory known as “tushes”.
The most easily recognisable feature of an Asian elephant is its trunk which is a fusion of its nose and upper lip. This trunk is made up of up to 100,000 muscles and can be used as an “arm/hand” to pick up food pull down branches etc. and for drinking, where water is sucked up into the trunk and blown back into the mouth.
Asian elephants live in herds usually made up of adult females and their calves, adolescent males either leave or are forced out of the herd and form bachelor groups before generally becoming solitary. These males then join a herd structure when it is time to breed. After breeding, the females are pregnant for between 20-22 months, giving birth to one calve who, if female, can stay with mum for the rest of her life.
Asian elephants are now categorised as being endangered due to elephant human conflict, habitat loss and poaching for their ivory.
Elephants are extremely intelligent animals, they have a huge brain and are one of the rare animals that can recognise their own reflection in the mirror.