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Kidadl Team

AUGUST 05, 2021

Indian Elephant Facts You’ll Never Forget

Some interesting Indian elephant facts for kids to know.

The Indian elephants are a sub-species of the Asian elephant. These large and bulky elephants are a symbol of cultural prosperity in south-east Asia. They are one of the most intelligent and sensitive animals with females being the most affectionate. Elephants in India are worshipped at some places as they resemble Lord Ganesha, with their boneless trunk swinging around. Even though they are four times bigger than humans, they are quite playful and friendly around people. Throughout history, the mighty Indian elephants have been the favorite chariots and pets of the ancient rulers of India. But now, large-scale efforts are being made to conserve this incredible species curbing their dropping population.

Read on to know more interesting facts about Indian elephants.

If you like these facts, check out the leopard seal and the fennec fox.

What type of animal is an Indian Elephant?

The Indian elephant is one of the three subspecies of Asian elephants. Size-wise they are smaller than an African elephant. These Asian elephants even have smaller ears when compared to African elephants. While they are massive in size they are herbivorous and spend around 19 hours a day eating food. Drinking gallons of water in a day, they always prefer staying near sources of water.

What class of animal does an Indian Elephant belong to?

Indian elephant Elephas maximus indicus belongs to the class of mammals. They give birth to their offsprings and nourishes them until they mature.  

How many Indian Elephants are there in the world?

The Indian elephant is an Endangered species as listed in the International Union for Conservation of Nature or IUCN Red List. At present, there are around 26,000 to 30,000 elephants left. The numbers are the highest in India followed by the other countries of mainland Asia.

Where does an Indian Elephant live?

The Indian elephants are found to live in isolated populations across various areas of southeast Asia. These animals prefer living in evergreen forests, tropical grasslands, dry deciduous forests or moist deciduous forests.  

What is an Indian Elephant's habitat?

Elephants can survive in a variety of habitats and are found in the wild and in a national park and in protected areas. Grasslands with large bushes and forests with medium-height trees are preferable spots as gathering food is easier here. But the elephant habitat is increasingly being threatened by the human population. Increased human-elephant conflict in agricultural lands and forest edges are encroaching on their habitat.  

Who do Indian Elephants live with?

These animals live in an elephant herd of an isolated population in their territory. In a forest, they usually live around tall grasses with other animals. Deer, zebra, and other animals comfortably coexist with the large elephants.

How long does an Indian Elephant live?

The lifespan of this elephant species ranges between 45 to 70 years. On average, these animals live for 48 years.

How do they reproduce?

It begins with a short courtship period where the males and females interact before mating. Usually, older males search for younger females to mate. The elephants reproduce after sexual intercourse wherein the male mounts on the truck of the female from behind. Being mammals, the baby elephant grows inside the womb of the female and the gestation period lasts for 22 months. After birth, baby elephants are nourished by their mothers and other related females or 'aunties' till they mature. Both male and female baby elephants stick around their mothers and aunties until five years of age, after which the males usually drift away independently.

What is their conservation status?

Indian elephants are a Critically Endangered species. Earlier these large animals were poached by humans for obtaining their ivory tusks. Since only the male elephants have tusks, they are more vulnerable than the females, disrupting the sex ratio of the species. Apart from poaching, trading innocent elephants for captivating them in zoos and circus was very popular. In recent times, human-elephant conflict, especially in India is threatening their existence. Increased conversion of forests into agricultural areas are shrinking the elephant habitat forcing the Indian elephants to get into human territories. Problems like habitat destruction, deforestation with resultant habitat loss and food shortage are making wild elephants encroach among the human population and settlements. These Indian Elephants suffer from insensitive human atrocities and are constantly dwindling in number becoming endangered.

Rigorous efforts of elephant conservation are known to bring fruitful results keeping the population size of these Asian elephants in check. Laws abolishing poaching, trading, and capturing these large animals are getting stricter. National parks and protected areas like Nagarhole National Park serve as human-moderated habitats for the breeding and conservation of elephants.

Indian Elephant Fun Facts

Indian elephants are extremely sociable

What do Indian Elephants look like?

A subspecies of the Asian elephant is the Indian elephants. They are big and stout animals with a long and hanging trunk. These elephants have a dark-gray to blackish-gray-colored body with sparse and coarse hair texture. Their tails are longer than the African elephant's and often get in between their hind legs. Some fuzzy hair hangs from the end of its tail.  They have large ears, a big head, and a rounded back. The trunk of the Indian elephant serves many important functions for their survival. It helps them to tear their food off the trees, break it and put it inside their mouths for chewing. In hot summers, they use their trunk to splash water on themselves to survive the heat. Their huge body weight is balanced by their trunks and thick legs with broad feet.

How cute are they?

Indian elephants are an extremely cute animal species. On a cuteness scale of one to 10, an Indian elephant can be placed straight at eight. They are extremely sociable animals and are very expressive. They nod their heads and ears and trumpet with their trunks when happy. Their drowsy and droopy eyes make them look lazy and sleepy. But are very active and jolly among humans.

How do they communicate?

The Indian elephant, Elephas maximus indicus are highly sociable species like humans. They are very expressive about their feelings. These elephants mostly use their trunks to communicate their desires, happiness, anger and all kinds of emotions. They give out high-pitched trumpets when happy, angered or threatened. Also, soft trumpets are their way of showing affection. An Indian elephant also has a unique ability to sense vibrations on earth. They also give out infrasonic sounds which cannot be heard by the humans but helps them to transmit information or alarm calls to other elephants over long distances.

How big is an Indian Elephant?

The Indian elephant is one of the largest mammals on earth. They are humongous in size and weight.  These elephants are thrice as tall as rhinoceros. They are 10 times bigger than a pet dog and four times the size of a bull.

How fast can an Indian Elephant move?

Indian elephants are usually slow walkers. But can fasten up to a speed of 27 mph, soon after perceiving danger.

How much does an Indian Elephant weigh?

An Indian elephant weighs over 4400 lb - 11000 lb (2000 kg - 3000 kg).

What are the male and female names of the species?

The males are called bulls while the female Indian elephants are called cows.

What would you call a baby Indian Elephant?

A single baby elephant is called a calf and many are called calves.

What do they eat?

The Indian elephants feed on a wide variety of herbivorous food consisting of 112 different plant species. Generally, their food consists of grasses, sugarcane, cultivated crops, trunks, shoots ad branches of trees, leaves and even bamboos. They spend most of the day feeding and drinking water. (Please include a link to the predator using its name as an anchor text)

Are they dangerous?

Indian Elephants are not at all dangerous until provoked. In fact, irrespective of their size, they are one of the friendliest and most caring mammals. If angered or threatened, they can turn really dangerous. These elephants can chase and bash their enemies with their thick trunks. When severely angered, they become extremely violent and can wreak havoc by destroying their surroundings and even crushing the enemies under their huge feet.

Would they make a good pet?

Elephants were earlier kept as pets in countries like India and Sri Lanka during the rule of the kings. But now it has been completely banned. An Indian elephant would make a great pet and companion. Their expressive and loving nature makes them cute and sociable. But considering their huge size, food habits and conservation efforts, they can not be kept as pets.

Did you know...

The trunk of an Indian elephant has no bones and consists of around 40,000 muscles

In hot summers, they drink around 200 litres of water to beat the heat

These elephants prefer staying in matriarchal herds with several related females in them. The oldest one usually leads the herd

Indian elephants can be seen coexisting well with their predators - tigers, in several national parks like the Nagarhole National Park in India

Is the Indian Elephant endangered?

Indian elephants are now an endangered species because of the various malpractices by humans threatening their survival. Earlier hunting elephants as a hobby killed many. Followed by the inconsiderate trading and killing of the males for obtaining the ivory from their tusks and elephant hide. Trading elephants and capturing them for the circus and carnival shows also reduced the elephant population in the wild. In recent times, with widespread human-elephant conflict by encroaching on their habitat and deforesting their food sources, the elephants are dwindling in number.

The Indian elephant population was listed as an Endangered species in the year 1986 in the IUCN Red List. Governmental efforts of breeding and conserving them in a protected area or national park has stopped elephant trading and hunting and are known to bring a considerable increase in their population. Laws on abolishing the trade and killing of elephants for ivory and skin are now enforced. Reforestation and preventing habitat loss will help preserve the Indian elephants.

What is the Indian Elephant god?

The Indian elephant is symbolic of a widely worshipped god of south-east Asia. The appearance of Lord Ganesha with his trunk and tusks resembles that of an Indian elephant. Lord Ganesha is known to be the god of knowledge and prosperity, hence, the elephants are also considered to be a holy species.

How to draw an Indian Elephant?

Start by making a semi-circular mound drawing its back and tail. Next, draw the trunk, face, and ears. Proceed by drawing the lower body and the four limbs. Finish it up by drawing the tusks and eyes. Lightly shade its skin to show the rough and slightly furry skin texture and the stiff tail hair.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other mammals including the anteater and the plains zebra.

You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one on our Indian elephant coloring pages.

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