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Elephants: Asian Elephant

© written by Tasha Guenther

Asian elephant and baby
Photographer: Brian Gratwicke; License CC BY 2.0

Elephants are primarily split into two different types, the African elephant and the Asian elephant. African elephants, however, are the largest living land animals. The Asian elephant is much smaller than the African elephant and is found primarily in India and China. There are populations across south-east Asia often drawing tourists from all over the world, as well.

To differentiate the Asian elephant from the African elephant, one also can look beyond just the size difference; for example, the Asian elephant has very small ears in comparison to the African. These elephants also have very curved backs in comparison and are generally very friendly to humans (this is why they have been exploited by the tourism industry). Probably the most interesting difference between the Asian and African elephants is that unlike African elephants, female Asian elephants do not have tusks! This makes it much, much easier to tell if an Asian elephant is a boy or a girl.

Though the Asian elephant is quite a lot smaller than the African elephant species, it is still a very large animal! The largest males weigh in at a whomping 8,000 pounds and have a shoulder height measurement of around 2.5 meters. Because of its large size, the Asian elephant has very few natural predators--in other words, no dangerous animal wants to eat it except... tigers!

Tigers are the one major natural predator of the Asian elephant. However, they rarely attack the full grown Asian elephants, preferring to hunt the smaller elephant calves (babies).

Like the African forest elephant, the Asian elephant is known for its beautiful tusks. Like the forest elephant, the Asian elephant is greatly endangered due to poaching. This type of activity is horrible and must be stopped or else the population of these beautiful elephants will continue to dwindle.