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Asian elephant

Species of mammal in the family Elephantidae / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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The Asian elephant (Elephas maximus), also known as the Asiatic elephant, is the only living species of the genus Elephas and is distributed throughout the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia, from India in the west, Nepal in the north, Sumatra in the south, and to Borneo in the east. Three subspecies are recognised—E. m. maximus from Sri Lanka, E. m. indicus from mainland Asia and E. m. sumatranus from the island of Sumatra.[4] Formerly, there was also the Syrian elephant or Western Asiatic elephant (Elephas maximus asurus) which was the westernmost population of the Asian elephant (Elephas maximus). This subspecies became extinct in ancient times.[5] Skeletal remains of E. m. asurus have been recorded from the Middle East: Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Turkey from periods dating between at least 1800 BC and likely 700 BC.[6] It is one of only three living species of elephants or elephantids anywhere in the world, the others being the African bush elephant and African forest elephant. It is the second largest species of elephant after the African bush elephant.

Quick facts: Asian elephant Temporal range Pliocene – Ho...
Asian elephant
Temporal range:
PlioceneHolocene,[1] 2.5–0 Ma
A tusked bull
Bandipur National Park, Karnataka, India
A cow and juveniles
Yala National Park, Sri Lanka
CITES Appendix I (CITES)[3]
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Proboscidea
Family: Elephantidae
Genus: Elephas
E. maximus[4]
Binomial name
Elephas maximus[4]
Asian elephant historical range (pink) and current range (red)

The Asian elephant is the largest living land animal in Asia.[7] Since 1986, the Asian elephant has been listed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List, as the population has declined by at least 50 percent over the last three elephant generations, which is about 60–75 years. It is primarily threatened by loss of habitat, habitat degradation, fragmentation and poaching.[5] In 2019, the wild population was estimated at 48,323–51,680 individuals.[8] Female captive elephants have lived beyond 60 years when kept in semi-natural surroundings, such as forest camps. In zoos, Asian elephants die at a much younger age; captive populations are declining due to a low birth and high death rate.[9]

The genus Elephas originated in Sub-Saharan Africa during the Pliocene and spread throughout Africa before expanding into the southern half of Asia.[1] The earliest indications of captive use of Asian elephants are engravings on seals of the Indus Valley civilisation dated to the 3rd millennium BC.[10]