Asian Elephant: An Endangered Species
Abstract The Asian Elephant also known by its scientific name the Elephas Maximus is an endangered species. They occur in grassland, tropical evergreen forest, semi-evergreen forest, moist deciduous forest, dry deciduous forested and dry thorn forest, in addition to cultivated and secondary forests and scrublands. The Asian elephant is one of the last few mega-herbivores still in existence on earth (Owen-Smith, 1988). These elephants are highly intelligent and live long lives but due to loss of habitat and hunting their numbers have decreased. To help conserve the Asian Elephant it is protected under appendix I of CITES. The Asian Elephant has been worshipped for centuries and is still used today for ceremonial and religious purposes. Although honored for its role in Asian culture and religion it is also a key biological species in the tropical forests of Asia (WWF, n.d). This animal is threatened with extinction in the wild. While the human population is increasing the Asian Elephant?™s habitat is shrinking fast. The Asian elephant is the largest terrestrial mammal in Asia. It is smaller than the African elephant, with relatively smaller ears. Asian elephants have a single finger on the upper lip of their trunk. Only some male Asian elephants carry tusks and females have small tushes, which rarely show. A significant number of adult males are tusk less, and the percentage of males carrying ivory varies by region, from only about 5% in Sri Lanka to 90% in south India (About Elephants, n.d.). Asian elephants keep their ears in constant motion in order to radiate the heat they generate and therefore cool themselves. The species are reported to have well developed hearing, vision, and olfaction, and are also fine swimmers. Their body length varies from 550-640cm, their shoulder height is from 250-300cm, and they weigh? 5,000kg. Their skin color is dark grey to brown, with patches of pink on the forehead, the ears, and the base of the trunk and on the chest. The Asian Elephant provides a vital role in the ecosystem that it inhabits. The Asian Elephant modifies their habitat by converting savannah and woodlands to grasslands. They also provide water for other species by digging water holes in dry riverbeds (ARKive, n.d.). Another factor that leads to their vital role in their ecosystem is that they act as seed dispersers by their fecal matter. It is often carried below ground by dung beetles and termites causing the soil to become more aerated and further distributing the nutrients (About Elephants, n.d.). Also an Asian Elephants journey through the high grass provides food for birds by disturbing small reptiles, amphibians or insects. About twenty percent of the world?™s human population lives in or near the present range of the Asian Elephant (WWF, n.d.). Asian Elephants are threatened by habitat loss and fragmentation to illegal hunting and trade. With the human population growing rapidly, the Asian Elephants habitat is shrinking fast and wild elephant populations are mostly small, isolated, and unable to come together as ancient migratory routes are cut off by human settlements (WWF, n.d.). Large development projects, plantations, and spreading human settlements have fragmented what was once nearby elephant habitats into small fragments. Only male Asian Elephants carry tusks and therefore poaching is aimed exclusively at males. Poaching of Asian Elephants for ivory and meat remains a serious problem in many countries, especially in southern India and in north-east India where some people eat elephant meat (ARKive, n,d,). The capture of wild elephants for domestic use has also become a threat to wild populations where numbers have been seriously reduced. India, Vietnam, and Myanmar have banned capture in order to conserve their wild herds, but in Myanmar elephants are still caught each year for the timber industry or the illegal wildlife trade. Efforts are being made not only to improve safety but also to encourage captive breeding rather than taking from the wild (About Elephants, n.d.). Incidents of elephants raiding crops and villages are also on the rise. This causes losses to human property and sometimes human lives. Retaliation by villagers often results in killings of these elephants. Experts already consider such confrontations to be the leading cause of elephant deaths in Asia. In some countries, the government provides compensation for crop damage or deaths caused by elephants, but there is still often strong political pressure on wildlife authorities to eliminate elephants near populated regions (WWF, n.d.). To help stop the extinction of the Asian Elephant there are many efforts being made. For example The Wildlife Conservation Society and the World Wildlife Federation have teamed up to formulate a strategy to conserve the Asian elephant?™s preferred environment across the continent of Asia. Also local communities in Thailand have helped stop the deforestation of trees by putting their spiritual and superstitious to good use and by planting new hard woods ( Animal Adoptions, n.d.). It has also been made illegal to hunt the elephants but some people still do it.
Wwf Asian Elephant
References (n.d.). Animal Adoptions. In What is Being Done to Save the Asian Elephant. Retrieved March 12, 2011, from http://www.animaladoptions.org.uk/what-is-being-done-to-save-the-asian-elephant.
(n.d.). ARKive. In Asian Elephant. Retrieved March 12, 2011, from http://www.arkive.org/asian-elephant/elephas-maximus/#text=All.
(n.d.). Elephant Information Repository. In About Elephants. Retrieved March 12, 2011, from http://elephant.elehost.com/About_Elephants/about_elephants.htm.
WWF. (n.d.). WWF Global. In Asian Elephants. Retrieved March 12, 2011, from http://wwf.panda.org/what_we_do/endangered_species/elephants/asian_elephants/.