TERRESTRIAL MAMMALS SPECIES
Asian elephants are native to tropical forests and grasslands of Southeast Asia, though almost a third of Asian Elephants live in captivity throughout Thailand, India, and Myanmar. Asian Elephants are around 20ft long, around 7-10ft tall, and weigh from 6,000 to 12,000 lbs.
Asian Elephants gestation typically lasts between 19 and 22 months. Newborns weigh about 200 pounds, standing close to 3ft tall and are able to walk within one day. Because of their labor intensive pregnancies, Asian Elephant populations struggle to recover compared to those species that carry multiple young in a litter.
Why do they matter?
Asian elephants play a vital role in the ecosystem, especially the ecological balance in its habitat. By eating seeds and other vegetation, Asian elephants are able to maintain the balance and diversity for numerous plant species through seed dispersal as well as preventing overgrowth.
The greatest threats to Asian elephants are habitat loss and fragmentation as well as poaching and illegal wildlife trade.
Besides poaching for tusks, the expansion of human settlements, plantations, industry, and farming also squeezes the range available for Asian Elephant populations. Asian Elephants now occupy only approximately 10% of their historical range, with the remaining populations small and isolated.
Will climate change affect the Asian elephants? Yes.
Asian elephants are affected by climate change in various ways. Given their sensitivity to temperature, Asian Elephant populations have been shown to decline throughout periods of higher than normal temperatures. Climate change also results in invasive plant species out-competing the Asian Elephant’s native food sources. Of most concern for Asian Elephants is their need for large amounts of fresh water as their reproduction, migration, and daily activities all center around freshwater. Droughts throughout the region and the resultant loss of freshwater sources heavily threatens Asian Elephant populations.