A Brief History of Elephants
The elephant can be traced back 26 million years when there were many species that had similar characteristics as today's elephants. Today, only two living species remain: the African Elephant and the Asian Elephant.
Elephants have been used in various capacities by humans over the years. They wee used in the military and for heavy labor, such as uprooting trees and moving logs. They have also played a strong role in religion: a white elephant is considered holy in Thailand ; Ganesh, the Hindu God of wisdom, has an elephant's head.
Today, elephants are facing numerous threats: the disappearance of natural habitats due to human activity, and poaching for their ivory tusks, meats and hides, to name a few. Many experts believe there is little future for the elephant outside protected areas.
Elephants used to exist in great numbers across Africa and parts of Asia but today these gentle giants are endangered. Rampant ivory poaching from 1979-89 more than halved Africa 's wild elephant populations from 1.4 million to a mere 600,000. Today, numbers may be as low as 400,000. In Asia , it is estimated that no more than 40,000 Asian elephants remain in the wild.
Fun Elephant Facts
Facts About The Asian Elephant:
The Asian Elephant (Elephas maximus) – formerly known as the Indian Elephant - is smaller than its African relatives, and the easiest way to distinguish the two is the smaller ears of the Asian Elephant. Asian elephants tend to grow to around 7 - 12 feet (two to four metres) in height and 6,500 - 11,000 lb (3,000 - 5,000 kg) in weight.
Asian elephants are found in India , China , Myanmar , Thailand , Cambodia , Malaysia ,Sri Lanka , Sumatra, and Borneo . The Asian elephant is widely domesticated, and has been used in forestry in Southeast Asia for centuries.
Asian Elephants have other differences from their African relatives, including a more arched back than the African, one "finger" at the tip of their trunk as opposed to two, four nails on each hind foot instead of three, and 19 pairs of ribs instead of 21.
Also, unlike female African Elephants, female Asian Elephants lack tusks.
Facts About the African Elephant:
The African Elephant (Loxodonta africana) can range in size from 20 - 24 ft (6 - 7.3 m) long and 10 - 13 ft (3 - 4 m) high. At up to 22,000 lb (10,000 kg) it is the largest land animal in the world.
African elephants tend to be larger than the Asian species and both male and female African elephants have long tusks. The African Elephant's larger ears are rich in veins and thought to help in cooling off the blood in the hotter African climate.
African Elephants have two "fingers" at the tip of their trunk, three nails on each hind foot and 21 pairs of ribs. Female African Elephants have tusks unlike the female Asian elephants.