Elephants Endangered Species Facts
There are two major types of elephants in the world, namely...
There are two major types of elephants in the world, namely, African and Asian. Both of these are facing the danger of extinction as the ivory hunters are posing serious threat to the very existence of the largest mammals on earth.
These are also known as Indian elephants and are now considered to be endangered as almost half of their population has declined in the past six or seven decades. Presently, less than 50,000 mature individuals have been reported living in the wild habitat and nearly 15,000 in captivity in the zoos. Approximately 50% of these live in India alone, while the remaining population is dispersed across various other nations of Asia. Based on the slight morphological differences, they are further divided into three types or subspecies, namely, Sri Lankan, Indian and Sumatran.
They live in Southern, Eastern and Western parts of the African continent and are different from their Asian counterparts. However, they are further recognizable into two species, namely, African Forest Elephants and African Bush Elephants both of which are classified in the genus Loxodonta. In the previous some decades, their population has been declining drastically as in the decade of 1980s, out of the population of 1.3 million about 700,000 individuals were put to death by the poachers. However, they have not been included in the list of endangered animals by the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature).
Threats to Elephants
Both Asian as well as African elephants are facing different types of threats to their protection, survival and the propagation of generation. The major kinds of threats are being posed by the anti-nature activities of humans, such as deforestation, and poaching.
Threats to Indian/Asian Elephants
Owing to a number of contributing factors, the Indian species of elephants are being rapidly dragged towards extinction. The dominant causes include deforestation, poaching and human-elephant conflict. People are clearing forests and destroying their habitat for their one-sided gains, such as agricultural utilization and the establishment of human settlements.
Expanding population always requires more agricultural land to meet the food needs of the human beings. For this end, local governments are wiping out the forests so that the land may be utilized for harvesting more and more food crops. This is a cause of destruction of the natural habitats of elephants and other endangered species. However, the poaching of Indian elephants is not as common as that of African species.
Threats to African Elephants
The primary and most devastating threat to both African bush & African forest elephants is that of poaching which is done especially for the sake of ivory. Ivory is used for making different articles of immense beauty and value; therefore, the hunters kill them to obtain this precious part of their body. Particularly owing to global warming, the rapidly changing atmosphere is creating some problems for the survival of these already dwindling organisms.
Endangered Elephants Facts
- In the past there were many species of elephants, which lived over most of the world except Australia. Some were much bigger than the elephants of today, but they are now extinct. As a result of hunting for ivory, poaching and exploitation of the elephants’ natural habitation, there are far fewer elephants today than they were just 20 years back. Many people are of the point of view that it is not possible for such large and demanding animals to survive and flourish in a world of expanding human populations.
- In the biological system of naming organisms, African and Asian Elephants are termed as Loxodonta africana and Elephas maximus, respectively, where the former part of their name refers to their particular genera and the latter denotes species.
- Three subspecies of Asian elephants and two of African elephants have been recognized that have different geographical distribution and distinct physical characteristics.
- Do you know the name of the largest terrestrial animals that are found in the world of today? They are not other than the male African elephants that measure as heavy as 7,000 kg in weight and reach up to the height of 4 meters or 13 feet!
- In the wild, the lifespan of African elephants is shorter than that of their Asian counterparts as the former live for just 60 years, while the latter reach the maximum age of 75.
- Though the brain size of whales is larger than that of any other creature on the planet earth, concerning the brain-to-body ratio, elephant take the lead.
- It is surprising to note that when a fetus, in the womb of a female elephant, grows up to the mass of 5 kg, its brain size measures larger than that of any other terrestrial animal. What will be its brain size in comparison to that of humans when it is born with the body mass of 100 kg?
- In the life history of humans, the teeth are replaced only once, while these animals have been found to replace their teeth for as many as six times!
- Elephants exhibit a high degree of intelligence and are considered as one of the most intelligent species in the world, as their highly convoluted neocortex is shared by dolphins, apes and humans.
- They show a number of startling behaviors that are quite similar to those of humans, such as a sense of humor, play, self-awareness, memory, art, altruism, grief, joy and the use of tools.