Can you imagine a world without elephants? This reality is closer than you think, for the Asian elephant, elephas maximus, anyway. Today there are thought to be as few 30,000 – 40,000 Asian elephants remaining in the wild, this being less than one-tenth of the African elephant population.
Gigantic not only in proportion, the Asian elephant has a great mental capacity too, being the fourth most intelligent mammal on the planet. Highly social animals, they live in small herds lead by the dominant female known as 'matriarch'. A flagship species, the Asian elephant plays a vital role in shaping and sustaining the richness of their forest habitat.
Wild populations of Asian elephant are currently found in 13 countries in all, these being Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Vietnam. The Asian elephant is considered to be a single species, Elephas maximus with four existing subspecies:
- Elephas maximus indicus (Indian elephant)
- Elephas maximus maximus (Sri Lankan elephant)
- Elephas maximus sumatranus (Sumatran elephant)
- Elephas maximus borneensis (Borneo elephant)
Catagorised as an endangered species, these magnificent animals face almost certain extinction. Their very existence threatened by poaching and the destruction of the forests in which they live, as well increasing conflict with people sharing the same habitat.
ElefantAsia is deeply concerned about the plight of both wild and captive populations of Asian elephants. With your help, we will continue our vital work that supports the survival of the emblematic species.