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Asian elephant

Asian elephant

Elephas maximus


Asian elephants are smaller than their African cousins and are the rarer of the two species.

They have smaller ears and tusks and their heads, not their shoulders, are the highest part of their bodies.

Unlike African elephants, Asian elephants have a single finger-like projection at the end of their trunks, rather than two.

Their hind foot has four toes, unlike African elephants, who have three.

Asian female elephants do not have tusks.



Diet
Asian elephants prefer grass but they also eat bark, roots, leaves and the stems of trees and shrubs.

Size
The elephants can be up to three metres high and can weigh up to 5,000 kilograms.

Location
Asian elephants are found in scrub forest or on the edge of dense forest in India and parts of south-east Asia.

Key to acronyms

EEP = European Endangered Species Programme
CITES = Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species
IUCN = International Union for Conservation of Nature
ESB = European Studbook

Conservation status
The IUCN believes the Asian elephant faces a very high risk of extinction in the wild.

The species is listed under Appendix I of CITES.

Threats
The main threat comes from the destruction of forests for agriculture.

The Asian elephant population has also been devastated in places by poaching for ivory and meat.

Current population
Estimates suggest that there are less than 42,000 Asian elephants left in the wild. Research projects report that numbers are still in decline.

Zoo population
There is an
EEP for Asian elephants.

There are around 350 elephants living in zoos around the world.