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Among the three living recognized subspecies of the Asian elephant, the Indian elephant (Elephas maximus indicus) is native to mainland Asia. Threatened by habitat loss, degradation, and fragmentation, the Indian elephant is listed as endangered on the IUCN Red List.
See the fact file below for more information on the Indian Elephant or alternatively, you can download our 20-page Indian Elephant worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
- In 1758, Swedish botanist and zoologist Carl Linnaeus suggested the scientific name Elephas maximus, which described the genus and an elephant originating from Ceylon.
- In 1798, Elephas indicus was proposed by French naturalist and zoologist Georges Cuvier.
- Generally, Asian elephants are smaller in size compared to their African cousins, and have the highest body point on the head. The tip of their trunk has a single finger-like process, and their back is convex or level.
- Indian elephants stand 6.6 to 11.5 feet at the shoulder and weigh between 4,400 to 11,000 pounds, with 19 pairs of ribs.
- They have lighter complexions than the Sri Lankan elephant (Elephas maximus maximus), with smaller patches of depigmentation, but darker than the Sumatran elephant (E. m. maximus).
- Compared to the males, the females are slightly smaller and have short or no tusks.
- The biggest Indian elephant was recorded to be 11.3 feet tall. In 1985, two large elephant bulls were seen for the first time in Bardia National Park, named Raja Gaj, 11.3 feet tall with more prominent forehead and domes than other Asian bull elephants, and Kanchha. They wandered the park area together and rarely visited female herds.
- Indian elephants are known to have smaller ears and large broad toes, though they have broader skulls and larger trunks than those of Africa.
DISTRIBUTION AND HABITAT
- Indian elephants are found in mainland Asia such as India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Myanmar, Thailand, Malay Peninsula, Laos, China, Cambodia, and Vietnam; they are already extinct in Pakistan.
- They prefer grasslands, dry and moist deciduous, and evergreen and semi-evergreen forests.
- In Nepal, about 100 to 125 Indian elephants inhabit Terai along the border with India. In 2002, its numbers ranged from 106 to 172 resident and migratory elephants.
- In the early 1990s, it is believed that their population reached 27,785 to 31,368 in India, where groups are restricted to four general areas: (1) northwest at the foot of the Himalayas in Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh, (2) northeast along the Himalaya foothills as far as the Mishmi Hills, (3) central part in Odisha, Jharkhand, and southern regions of West Bengal, and (4) south portions of Kamataka.
- In Bangladesh, 150 to 250 individuals were isolated in the Chittagong Hills.
- In Bhutan, 250 to 500 elephants were in the range south along the border with India.
- About 4,000 to 5,000 species were found in Myanmar, occuring in the northern range and Arakan Yoma in the west, Pegu Yoma of central Myanmar, Tenasserim, and Shan State.
- 2,500 to 3,200 elephants live in the mountains in Thailand, along the border with Myanmar.
ECOLOGY AND BEHAVIOR
- These elephants are megaherbivores, consuming up to 330 pounds of plant matter daily. They are generalist feeders, grazing over wild and low vegetation and feeding on leaves, soft shoots, or fruits of high-growing, woody plants.
- In a study in southern India, elephants were recorded to eat 112 different plant species, mostly on the order Malvales, and the legume, palm, sedge, and true grass families.
- In autumn when grasses are mature, Indian elephants clean and consume the succulent basal parts with the roots, and get rid of the fibrous blades. From the bamboo, they feed on seedlings, culms, and lateral shoots.
- During the dry season from January to April, these species primarily browse leaves and twigs, picking the fresh foliage, and feed on thorn-bearing shoots of acacia species.
- They also eat the bark of white thorn and other flowering plants, and consume the fruits of wood apple, tamarind, kumbhi, and date palm.
- Indian elephants are primarily threatened by habitat loss, degradation, and fragmentation, which are caused by the increase of human population, leading to heightened conflicts between humans and elephants when the giant mammals eat or trample crops.
- Loss of significant amounts of elephant range and acceptable habitat continues, and their free movement is hindered by reservoirs, hydroelectric projects and associated canals, irrigation dams, several pockets of cultivation and plantations, highways, railway lines, mining, and industrial improvements.
- Another serious danger in some parts of Asia is the poaching of these mammals for ivory, causing a reduction in genetic variation.
- Young elephants in Myanmar are separated from their mothers for use in Thailand’s tourism industry; mothers are often killed and their calves are grouped with unrelated cows to suggest they are with their mothers. These baby elephants are often tied up, confined, starved, beaten, and tortured.
- Currently, the Indian elephant is listed as endangered on the IUCN Red List.
- In 1992, Project Elephant was enacted by the Government of India Ministry of Environment and Forests in order to provide financial and technical support for wildlife management efforts by states for Asian elephants found in the wild.
Indian Elephant Worksheets
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about the Indian Elephant across 20 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use Indian Elephant worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about the Indian elephant (Elephas maximus indicus) which is native to mainland Asia. Threatened by habitat loss, degradation, and fragmentation, the Indian elephant is listed as endangered on the IUCN Red List.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- Indian Elephant Facts
- Gentle Giants of India
- Describe and Label
- Just Indian Elephant Things
- The More You Know
- Life Of a Giant
- Extinct and Extant
- Indian Elephant Recap
- Decorate Your Elephant
- Mother’s Love
- Elephants and Humans
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Link will appear as Indian Elephant Facts & Worksheets: https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, December 4, 2020
Use With Any Curriculum
These worksheets have been specifically designed for use with any international curriculum. You can use these worksheets as-is, or edit them using Google Slides to make them more specific to your own student ability levels and curriculum standards.