Elephants have been revered for centuries in Asia, playing an important role in the continent's culture and religion. They are also play a critical role in maintaining the region's forests. But their habitat is shrinking and Asian elephants are now endangered.
Estimates range from 20, to 40, in the wild, with continued declines mainly caused by habitat loss, human-elephant conflict, and poaching. Asian elephants face many threats in the wild, but habitat loss and fragmentation are the primary causes of their decline. All Asian elephant range countries are currently experiencing rapid human population growth.
Unless you live under a rock you'll know about the plight of African elephants, which are falling victim to the ivory trade at an alarming rate. An elephant roaming free on the African savannah suffers the moment a poacher shoots and needlessly slaughters the animal for its ivory. But it's rarely ivory poachers who threaten its cousin the Asian elephant; it's holidaymakers.
Dressed impractically in sandals and a skirt, I saw my first wild Asian elephant in the forests of Thailand. Riding around in the back of pickup trucks and army jeeps and following ranger-guides through the brush, I was grateful for the large, gray, soulful-eyed reminders of why I do what I do. Before I left Washington, D.
Populations of Asian elephants have fallen from an estimated one million in the late 19th Century to scarcely 40, today. Capture from the wild often entails slaughtering the mothers and other herd members who attempt to protect their young. The elephants are forced into a pen and tied with ropes to prevent them moving.
Large animals, like the Asian elephants, have evolved to grow and mature at a different rate than many smaller species monitored by organizations like the International Union for the Conservation of Nature IUCN. At 22 months, elephants have the longest gestation period of any mammal. But in reality, most females only reproduce every six years.
Climate change, poaching, competition for food and water … elephants have never faced such threats. Here are more than 50 ways to give them a helping hand. Can you add to the list?
The greatest threats to Asian elephants are habitat loss, fragmentation, and degradation; illegal killing e. A world where people and ecologically functioning populations of wild Asian Elephants can co-exist and thrive across the elephants' range. WCS works with its government partners across Asia to improve law enforcement at key sites, in part through the roll-out of the SMART approach to managing rangers and patrol-based data. We promote low-tech, community-based crop-guarding methods to reduce farmers' conflicts with elephants.
The ears of the Asian elephant are smaller and more rounded than the African elephant, and, whereas both male and female African elephants can have tusks, only some male Asian elephants have large tusks. Many forests in Asia depend on elephants for seed dispersal and creating open spaces through which seedlings can grow. These are forests which sequester carbon and release water and oxygen, thereby playing a key role in global climate control.
In Hinduism, the powerful deity honored before all sacred rituals is the elephant-headed Lord Ganesha, the 'Remover of Obstacles'. Elephants have been revered for centuries in Asia, however religious and cultural significance is no guarantee of protection. All three recognised sub-species of the Asian elephant — the Sumatran, Indian and Sri Lankan elephants — are in peril.