The Indian elephant is one of the largest land mammals on Earth. The trunk of the Asian elephant has two finger-like structures at its tip that allow the animal to perform both delicate and powerful movements. Elephants have long, coarse hairs sparsely covering their body. Their skin is brown to dark gray. They have been very important to Asian culture for thousands of years - they have been domesticated and are used for transportation and to move heavy objects. Nothing can compare the majestic build up of an elephant and when you ride on when, it feels like you've gone back to the times of the royal. Indian Elephants always catch the attention of every onlooker, but just like Tigers and Lions this animal has also come under threat of extinction.
Elephants live in a matriarchal family group of related females called a herd. They are led by the oldest and often largest female in the herd. Herds consist of eight to 100 individuals. Males may be associated with a herd, solitary or may live temporarily with other males. Elephants produce a variety of sounds including low frequency calls, high pitched calls and loud trumpeting.
Asian elephants eat grass, bark, roots and leaves. They also like crops such as banana grown by farmers, making them a pest in agricultural areas. Adult elephants eat about 330 pounds of food a day. They must drink water every day and are never far from a water source.
Asian elephants stand eight to ten feet tall at the shoulder. Females weigh about 6,000 pounds and males can weigh up to 11,900 pounds!
Asian elephants are distinguished from the African ones by their smaller size, smaller ears, more rounded back, and fourth toenail on each of their hind feet. They have thick, dry skin with a small amount of stiff hair, and are grey to brown in colour.
Asian elephants are mainly found across India and Sri Lanka and towards the south and east as far as Sumatra. They live in a range of habitats from grasslands to wet forests. Asian Elephants have a varied vegetarian diet, and feed on grasses, bamboo, leaves, bark, shoots, creepers and palms. They also prefer seasonal variety sometimes such as fig leaves and fruits, wood apple and mango.
Indian Elephants are very sociable animals and march from forest to forest, seldom staying in one for more than a few days. However, few males in their youth prefer to lead a solitary life. When on the move, the females lead the herd, with the tuskers lagging behind, unless alerted to some approaching danger.
The elephant population is vulnerable to unscrupulous poachers due to their precious ivory tusks. Elephant tusks can weigh up to 22 kg a pair. Elephants feed on barks, roots, fruit and grasses. The elephant population is now part of the Elephant conservation Project, a nation wide conservation effort to protect these lumbering beasts from extinction. Manas, Corbett, Dalma and Palamu, Bandipur and Nagarhole, Periyar and Madumalai national parks are the best places to watch the Indian Elephant in its natural habitat.
In India the elephant safaris can be use to enjoy watching wildlife. The Jim Corbett National park, Bandhavgarh national park and the Dudhwa Tiger Reserve, Kaziranga National Park all offers excellent elephant safari options to the tourist.