Elephants in India

There are estimated to be 26,000 Asian elephants living in India today, of which some 3,500 are working animals. This represents around 57% of the remaining world population. One of the biggest issues is the gender ratio in that in some areas there is just one male elephant for 100 females. In addition, elephant habitat is under constant erosion due to the expansion of human communities. This gives rise to conflict, resulting in some 400 people a year being trampled to death in India by wild elephants, with dozens of elephants killed by villagers in retaliation.

Population & Distribution of Indian elephants

India has by far the largest remaining populations of Indian elephant (estimated at around 57% of the total). Small populations of the subspecies are also found on the Andaman Islands and in Borneo. There are four populations and ten sub populations of the mainland Indian elephant, distributed in the South, Central, Northwest and Northeast regions in India.

  • The southern population is distributed in the forests of Western and Eastern Ghats in the states of Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.
  • The north western population spans the Terai forest regions of Uttar Pradesh along the foothills of Himalayas.
  • The north-eastern population is found at the Himalayan foothills of Bhutan and north -west Bengal eastwards into the states of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram, Tripura and Meghalaya.

Tiger growl recordings deter crop-raiding Indian elephants According to a new study recordings of growling tigers scare elephants and could halt their crop-destroying incursions in Indian villages

Books about Indian elephants

Queen of the Elephants

Queen of the Elephants

Mark Shand trekked 300 miles across East Benghal and Assam on the back of an elephant with Parbato Barua, the foremost and only female elephant trainer in all India. This book describes the experiences shared during this remarkable journey – joining a government ‘elephant squad’ together with local villagers to chase a band of wild elephants off a tea estate, and making a stop at Parbati’s ancestral home, now a virtual shrine to her father’s lifelong work with elephants. The importance of this ancient knowledge becomes clear: if not preserved, the Asian elephant stands an even greater chance of disappearing altogether. Amazon

The Great Indian Elephant Book: An Anthology of Writings on Elephants in the Raj

The Great Indian Elephant Book: An Anthology of Writings on Elephants in the Raj

An anthology containing major and rare pieces on the life and habits of the elephant in various parts of south Asia and makes for informed and interesting reading. For centuries, elephants have been a source of wonder, fear, and fascination to man. While depiction of the elephant in art, sculpture and literature goes far back in time, this anthology focuses on the nineteenth century when the British Empire was on the ascendant in India, Burma and Sri Lanka, and colonial rulers began using the elephant in war and for transport, even as they were hunting it. This comprehensive collection includes excellent descriptions of these intelligent and sagacious animals in the wild, with rare insight into elephant behavior, anatomy and haunts, as well as the odd apocryphal story about them: is there really an elephant graveyard in Sri Lanka? Do elephants have extraordinary memories? Did a man-eating elephant actually exist? With fascinating photographs and drawings, this is a fascinating and attractive collection. Amazon

More links

India’s elephants finally given same protection as tigers (2010)

The Indian authorities have now decided to declare the elephant its “national heritage animal” and to afford it the same level of protection as bestowed upon the mighty tiger. “We need to give the same degree of importance to the elephant as is given to the tiger in order to protect the big animal,” said the Environment minister, Jairam Ramesh

Project Elephant

Elephant ( Elephas maximus ) is the largest terrestrial mammal of India . Elephant being wide ranging animal requires large areas . As per our mythology , elephant took birth from celestial waters and thus are closely associated with rains / water because of the belief. The requirement of food and water for elephants are very high and therefore their population can be supported only by forests that are under optimal conditions. The status of elephant can be the best indicator of the status of the forests. Asian elephants were believed to be widely distributed – from Tigris – Euphrates in West Asia eastward through Persia into the Indian sub-continent , South and Southeast Asia including Sri Lanka , Java , Sumatra , Borneo and up to North China. However currently they are confined to Indian Subcontinent , South East Asia and some Asian Islands – Sri Lanka, Indonesia and Malaysia. About half of the Asian elephant population is in India.
Old literatures indicate that even during the Moghul period , elephants were found all over India including many part of Central India like Marwar , Chanderi , Satwas , Bijagarh and Panna. However current distribution of wild elephant in India is confined to South India ; North East including North West Bengal ; Central Indian states of Orissa , South WB and Jharkhand; and North West India in Uttarakahnd and UP.


Elephant sightings in India

Elephant plays with lizard: the playful life of animals

An Indian elephant stunned wildlife experts by catching a live lizard and carrying it around for days like a toy, but elephants are not the only animals that like to play.

Elephants on the rampage in India: 500 homes destroyed

A herd of 12-13 elephants has caused havoc in the Kandhamal district of India. The elephants have completely destroyed 500 homes, left seven dead, and sent another 500 people to camps for shelter.

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