Fun Sumatran Elephant Facts For Kids

Moumita Dutta
Feb 29, 2024 By Moumita Dutta
Originally Published on Aug 05, 2021
Edited by Isobel Murphy
Fact-checked by Shreya Yadav
Sumatran elephant facts are fun to know
Age: 3-18
Read time: 8.2 Min

Do you find elephants extremely cute? One of the smallest Asian elephants in the world is the Sumatran elephant. These elephants are native to the Sumatran Island of Indonesia. Sumatran elephants like to live in the broadleaf moist tropical forests of the Sumatra Island and feed on berries, young leaves, and fruits. Sumatran elephants look a tad different when compared to other elephant species, as they have brighter skin with little to no pigmentation. The tusks of male Sumatran elephants are small, while females have tiny tusks hidden under their upper lip. Like other elephants, Sumatran elephants are quite intelligent, and they communicate between themselves with the help of low-frequency vibrations. Sumatran elephants live and travel in herds that are usually headed by a matriarch or an older female member of the population.

The numbers of this specific species of elephants are dwindling, and only between 2,400 and 2,800 Sumatran elephants are left. Deforestation and habitat loss are the main reason behind the massive reduction in their population. Currently, they are classified under the status of Critically Endangered in the IUCN Red List. So, the total population of Sumatran elephants is under security and better conservation efforts to protect them from going extinct. Keep reading to find out more interesting facts about Sumatran elephants!

Sumatran Elephant Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a Sumatran elephant?

Sumatran elephants are one the smallest Asian elephants found in the world and they belong to the family Elephantidae. They are classified as a subspecies of Asian elephant.

What class of animal does a Sumatran elephant belong to?

The Sumatran elephant belongs to the class of Mammal or Mammalia and the order Proboscidea.

How many Sumatran elephants are there in the world?

It is estimated that only a population of between 2,400 and 2,800 Sumatran elephants are left in this world. Sumatran elephants fall under the Critically Endangered status and the number of Sumatran elephants has dwindled due to the human-elephant conflict of surviving in the forest space. Sumatran elephants are currently protected under Indonesian law to conserve their dwindling population.

Where does a Sumatran elephant live?

The Sumatran elephants' population usually lives in broadleaf moist tropical forests on the Sumatra Island of Indonesia. They also like to live beside rivers and at times also travel uphill.

What is a Sumatran elephant's habitat?

Sumatran elephants prefer to live in the dense forests present on Sumatra Island. Sumatran elephants are also good at climbing mountains. The thick and coarse skin of a Sumatran elephant helps them to survive all weather conditions and withstands harsh sunlight. There was a time when Sumatran elephants populated the lush forests of the Riau Province, but their numbers have sadly gone down since. A survey in 2008 found that the population of Sumatran elephants had gone extinct in the local area of West Sumatra. The Sumatran elephant habitat mainly lies in the lowland areas. However, this has changed due to human-elephant conflicts over their preferred habitat.

Who do Sumatran elephants live with?

The sociable nature of Sumatran elephants leads to them living in herds of between five and 20 individuals. These herds are usually led by a matriarch, which is often the oldest female member of the group. A herd typically consists of female elephants and calves. Apart from sharing a strong bond amongst the adults, Sumatran elephants are also quite affectionate towards their calves. Sumatran elephants use low-frequency sounds to communicate with each other and these elephants even show a ritual of grieving for their dead. They touch the dead elephant's body with their trunk as a solemn goodbye.

How long does a Sumatran elephant live?

A Sumatran elephant can live for around 60 to 70 years.

How do they reproduce?

Sumatran elephants can mate throughout the year, however, the peak period is during the rainy season. Like other elephants, the species of Sumatran elephants have a long gestation period that lasts for 19 to 21 months. A female Sumatran elephant usually delivers one calf every four years. An elephant generally gives birth at night, and the process is incredibly quick, usually lasting for a few minutes. A Sumatran elephant calf is able to stand within 30 minutes of its birth! The Sumatran elephant (Elephas maximus sumatranus) takes three years from birth to be weaned from its mother. Sexual maturity for females comes by the age of 10, whereas in males, it may come at the ages of between 12 and 15.

What is their conservation status?

The Sumatran elephant population currently falls under the status of Critically Endangered. In 2012 its status as an Endangered species was changed to the Critically Endangered status in the IUCN Red List. The Sumatran elephant has already gone extinct locally on the western side of the Sumatra Island as this critically endangered species has suffered greatly from habitat loss. Poaching of Sumatran elephant calves is also a problem. In 2004, the Tesso Nilo National Park was established in the Riau Province to facilitate a habitat for these animals. Currently, it's estimated that only 2,400 to 2,800 Sumatran elephants are left in the world.

Sumatran Elephant Fun Facts

What do Sumatran elephants look like?

Sumatran elephants, who are also known by their scientific name Elephas maximus sumatranus, are a subspecies of Asian elephant. They are also one of the smallest Asian elephants that are known to the world. Even though they are small, Sumatran elephants are known for their bright skin. They are also an elephant species with fewer de-pigmented spots on their skin. These animals have coarse and wrinkly light gray, brown, or black skin that is covered with sparse hair. The males tend to have tusks that are visible whereas the females have small tusks or might not even have tusks. Even the tusks of males don't tend to grow too long. There is a distinct single finger-like projection in front of a Sumatran elephant's trunk and more than 60,000 muscles are present in the trunk of a Sumatran elephant.

Sumatran Elephants in a river

How cute are they?

Sumatran elephants are definitely quite cute especially because of their small size, short tusks, and beady black eyes. As a species, Sumatran elephants appear friendlier thanks to their small appearance.

How do they communicate?

Sumatran elephants communicate with fellow members of a herd by making soft vibrations in their upper trunks. Elephants are regarded as one of the most intelligent animals present in the world and it has been noted that Sumatran elephants have the ability to produce subsonic sounds that can travel up to 3 miles (5 km).

How big is a Sumatran elephant?

Sumatran elephants can grow up to a length of 216-252 in (5.5-6.4 m) and to a height of 6.6-10.5 ft (201-320 cm) which is relatively small compared to other Asian elephants. They are quite small compared to African bush elephants too, which reach an average shoulder height of 396 cm (12.1 ft).

How fast can a Sumatran elephant move?

The Sumatran elephant isn't able to move very fast due to its heavy weight.

How much does a Sumatran elephant weigh?

A Sumatran elephant can grow to have an average weight of 4,400-8,800 lb (2,000-4,000 kg).

What are their male and female names of the species?

Among Sumatran elephants, the males are classified as bulls and the females as cows.

What would you call a baby Sumatran elephant?

The offspring of Sumatran elephants are known as calves.

What do they eat?

Sumatran elephants are herbivores, so their diet revolves around berries, fruits, bananas, tree barks, wild herbs, and coconut plants' young leaves. An adult Sumatran elephant requires up to 330 lb (150 kg) of food in a day. The diet of Sumatran elephants also includes about 53 gallons (200 liters) of water in a day. On the island of Sumatra, the animals have also been known for exploring palm oil plantations, paddy fields, and coconut groves, searching for food. Recently, the diet of Sumatran elephants has been limited due to humans taking up natural forest spaces.

Are they dangerous?

As wild animals, Sumatran elephants are definitely dangerous (even if they seem approachable because of their relatively small size). Due to habitat loss, the Sumatran species has wreaked havoc in parts of the island of Sumatra by raiding crops and trampling on houses.

Would they make a good pet?

As a species of Asian elephants, Sumatran elephants are quite intelligent. However, as they are a Critically Endangered species of wild animals, keeping them as pets is not an option. Also, elephants are known to grow quite aggressive especially during their mating season, so the answer is negative when it comes to owning a Sumatran elephant as a pet.

Did you know...

Sumatran elephants have 20 ribs compared to the usual 19 ribs that are found in other elephants, such as African elephants.

Sumatran elephants sleep twice a day. They lie down and make themselves comfortable in the soft grass while sleeping during their usual midnight sleep period. However, these elephants also take a nap during the daytime, while standing under comfortable, shadow-providing trees. They can even snore during this nap if the day is too tiring!

One of the other interesting facts about the Sumatran elephant is that they aren't able to jump. Does that surprise you?

Is the Sumatran elephant endangered?

Yes, the Sumatran elephant falls under the status of Critically Endangered in the IUCN Red List. It is estimated that no more than 2,800 Sumatran elephants are left in this world. They have been endangered due to the treats of habitat encroachment and poaching. In response to this the Indonesian government has been working hard to aid the conservation of Sumatran elephants for a long time. However, these elephants are still being killed by local residents if elephants invade a palm oil field or paddy field. The Indonesian government set up the Tesso Nilo National Park for the conservation of this unique population of the Asian elephant. Sadly, in the last 25 years, about 70% of the natural habitat of Sumatran elephants has been destroyed.

Importance of the Sumatran elephant

Sumatran elephants are very important for the island of Sumatra as they help transport a variety of plant seeds that help the forest ecosystem and their habitat prosper. Sumatran elephants are also one of the smallest Asian elephants present in the world and are wonderful animals that must be protected!

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one on our Sumatran elephant coloring pages.

Sumatran elephant Facts

What Did They Prey On?


What Type of Animal were they?


Average Litter Size?


How Much Did They Weigh?

4,400-8,800 lb (2,000-4,000 kg)

What habitat Do they Live In?

nearby rivers, lowland forests, and hill forests (in certain seasons)

Where Do They Live?

sumatra island, indonesia

How Long Were They?

216-252 in (5.5-6.4 m)

How Tall Were They?

6.6-10.5 ft (201-320 cm)







Scientific Name

Elephas maximus sumatranus

What Do They Look Like?

Light gray, brown, or black

Skin Type

Coarse and wrinkled thick skin with hair

What Are Their Main Threats?

deforestation and expansion of human habitat, sumatran tigers

What is their Conservation Status?

Critically Endangered
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Written by Moumita Dutta

Bachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

Moumita Dutta picture

Moumita DuttaBachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

A content writer and editor with a passion for sports, Moumita has honed her skills in producing compelling match reports and stories about sporting heroes. She holds a degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the Indian Institute of Social Welfare and Business Management, Calcutta University, alongside a postgraduate diploma in Sports Management.

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