Monday, November 28, 2011

Facts on the Asian Elephant

Asian elephants, or elephas maximus, live in south east Asian countries and India. Most live in the forests, but some also live on grassland plains and in the mountains.

The Asian elephant is smaller than the African elephant, with much smaller ears and tusks. This is probably because they live mostly in the forest and don’t need large ears to cool themselves with, and large tusks would get in the way among the trees.

Female Asian elephants (called cows) don’t have tusks and are slightly smaller than male elephants (called bulls). A full size Asian elephant bull weighs up to 12 000 pounds, or five and a half tons; and is about 10 feet, or 3 metres tall.

Asian elephants have a high forehead, possibly used to transmit subdural vibrationary sounds. Their ears are said to be shaped like India.. The eyes are a bit bigger than a human’s, and they have good eyesight, being able to see a moving object in daylight at up to 150 feet or 45 metres away.
Asian elephants have been used as a working animal in south east Asia and India for thousands of years.

Are Asian Elephants Endangered?
While elephants are not registered as endangered, because their population dropped so alarmingly quickly due to poaching (populations dropped about 50% between 1979 and 1989 due to poaching, until the ivory trade ban in 1989). Elephant populations only increase by about 6% a year, and only if the population remains undisturbed.

Elephants have no natural predators, however, their habitat is under threat from increased human development, farming and logging. Poachers still operate in some areas and decimate populations very quickly. Half a million elephants have been killed in the past 10 years alone. Ivory from their tusks is worth its weight in gold, unfortunately.

Talks are underway to approach a compromise to prevent poaching. Legal elephant hunters could be limited to killing only male elephants with tusks above a certain size, allowing younger males to service the unharmed females and continue increasing elephant populations. Consideration is also being given to removing restrictions on the ivory trade and allowing villages to farm elephants in order to harvest their tusks.

Farming elephants could also bring the tourist trade to remote villages to boost their financial economy. They could provide elephant spotting tours, and elephant rides into the nearby forests and grasslands, to view the other native wildlife and natural beauty spots.

Put simply, human nature being what it is, we have to give the villagers who dwell in elephant country a reason to value and protect these wonderful beasts of the earth.

No comments:

Post a Comment