Indian Elephant - Origin, Characteristics, Habitat and Conservation Status

Indian elephant: find out what this animal is like, its physical characteristics, character, behavior, etc. The Indian elephant (Elephas maximus indicus) is one of three...

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" The Indian elephant (Elephas maximus indicus) is one of the three subspecies of the Asian elephant (Elephas maximus) that currently exist. Elephants are fascinating animals, not only for their size and power, but they are among the most intelligent mammals, they have a very good memory, hence the saying to have an elephant&39;s memory. In addition, they organize themselves socially into clans, establishing strong emotional bonds, they are able to feel compassion and they enter a period of mourning when a member of their group dies."

But it is precisely for the physical characteristics of elephants that they have been a group terribly persecuted by humans, who have used them in many, many wars, to make them carry very heavy loads, like beast money for construction as well as for entertainment in circuses or zoos where they are terribly mistreated. At PlanèteAnimal, we invite you to continue reading to learn more about the Indian elephant.


  • Asia
  • India
  • Nepal

Origin of the Indian Elephant

In the past, the distribution of the Indian elephant was much wider and it was easily possible to see an Indian elephant outside the borders of the eponymous country. However, it has now disappeared from very many parts of the world. The main populations are found in parts of India, specifically in the northeast, up to the eastern border of Nepal and west to Assam.On the other hand, there are people who live east of Arunachal Pradesh and the hills of Nagaland. Other groups are found in the Brahmaputra plains and on the Karbi plateau to the Garo hills of Meghalaya. In addition, rather fragmented populations have been identified in central India, southern Bengal, the foothills of the Himalayas and on the Yamuna River.

As for South India, they are found in Uttara Kannada, in the Dandeli forests, as well as on the Malnad plateau. Also in the Nagarahole, Bandipur, Wyanad and Mudumalai reserve complex, where the population density is high. They are also found in the Biligirirangans and in the mountainous area along the Cauvery River. There are also scattered groups in isolated hills in eastern Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, as well as in the Anamalai - Nelliyampathy - High Ranges reserve. The Indian elephant is also found in the forests of Kothamangalam, Periyar National Park and the hilly region of Agasthyamalain, places that are extremely important habitat for these animals.

Characteristics of the Indian Elephant

The Indian elephant is the most abundant subspecies of the genus Elephas. It is of intermediate size if compared to the other two subspecies of Asian elephants, and it can end up measuring around 6 meters in length for a height of around 3 meters. Although it is the lightest species, it still weighs between 2 and 5 tons.

This species has a prominent head with a very wide skull and trunk, relatively small ears, a long trunk, like their tail, which stands out for its long size. Also, its tail has hair on the lower part. Usually they have tusks, but they may be absent in some females.

The Indian elephant is dark gray to brown in color and usually has depigmented areas that can take on a pinkish color that gives the appearance of spots.

Nevertheless, some people confuse Asian elephants with African elephants, if this is your case, we invite you to read this other article on the differences between the African and Asian elephant.

Indian Elephant Habitat

The main habitat of this elephant is in several different ecosystems of India which consist of grasslands, tropical evergreen and semi-evergreen forests, wet and dry foliage forests, as well as dry thorns. They can also be seen near agricultural areas.

On the other hand, the Indian elephant, although in lesser numbers, can also be seen in other parts of the world, such as Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Nepal , Cambodia, etc

Also, these elephants can live at sea level up to 3,000m above sea level, for example in the Himalayas. Due to the various alterations undergone by the natural habitats of elephants, it is difficult to know exactly which ecosystems are the most suitable for these animals.

Habits of the Indian Elephant

The Indian elephant shares certain behavioral characteristics with other Asian elephant subspecies. In this sense, they are highly sociable animals that establish a group structure managed by the oldest female, so that their group are matriarchal. The pack or clan has the presence of an older male and other youngsters. Once the males are sexually mature, they are forced to leave the group to lead a solitary life.

Indian elephants are generally diurnal, however, during the night some may stay awake to stand guard against humans. Also, these elephants can travel very long distances in search of food and water sources. Scientists have identified that among Indian elephants, females travel greater distances than males, between 550 and 700 km, while males travel between 188 and 407 km.

In male Indian elephants, an occasional behavior known in India as musth occurs. It is a rather aggressive behavior during which he rejects the proximity of others and he will not hesitate to attack. It has been proven that during this phase, his sexual appetite increases sharply. Musth lasts between a few weeks and a month.

Indian Elephant Feeding

Elephants have a relatively low digestive efficiency, which is why an Indian elephant can spend up to almost 20 hours a day feeding to be able to cover the nutritional needs of their large bodies.

Their diet is herbivorous and generalist, that is to say, it includes a wide variety of plants or parts of them. The Indian elephant feeds mainly by grazing or grazing, so it feeds on:

  • Branches
  • Leaves
  • Seeds
  • Bark
  • Wood plants.
  • Herbs

They are also attracted to certain cultivated plants, such as rice, bananas and sugar cane. Their proboscis plays an indispensable role in their way of feeding.

On the other hand, elephants need to drink every day, which is why they stay near water sources. For more information you can read this other article: What do elephants eat?

Reproduction of Indian elephant

As soon as the female is ready to reproduce, she emits chemical and auditory signals that cause the males to approach the clan. Therefore, clashes can occur between the males who will fight to mate with the female, since only one will be the chosen one of his heart and it is usually the one who has won all the clashes.

The females are pregnant for 22 months, they will give birth to a single baby elephant which at birth will weigh around 100 kilos and which will suckle until around 5 years old, even if it can also feed on certain plants.

When the population cup is stable, females wait up to 6 years or more before breeding again. The clan's matriarchal structure means that several females take care of the calves.

Conservation status of the Indian elephant

Estimates establish that in India the total population of this elephant is about 29,964 individuals, which is why it has been declared critically endangered. Also, its population is decreasing.

Between the causes of this sad impact are indiscriminate hunting, illegal trade, habitat loss and fragmentation. Due to the impact generated on the ecosystems where these elephants inhabit, they are forced to move towards human populations, which ends up creating dangerous situations.

Nowadays, various measures for the conservation and protection of the species are being developed, which are carried out through local and international actions. Measures include the conservation of ecosystems, as well as security in the corridors used by these animals, the management of conflicts that occur between elephants and humans, as well as the control of illegal hunting and trade.

Indian Elephant Pictures

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