Envis Centre, Ministry of Environment & Forest, Govt. of India

Printed Date: Sunday, December 4, 2022

State animal: Elephant

 

 

State animal - Elephant (Elephas maximus indicus)

 

The state animal of Kerala is Asian Elephant (also known as the Indian Elephant) is a huge land animal that lives in India , Malaysia , Sumatra , and Sri Lanka . This elephant is used extensively for labor; very few are left in the wild. Their life span is up to 70 years. There are three living species: the African Bush Elephant, the African Forest Elephant (until recently known collectively as the African Elephant), and the Asian Elephant (also known as the Indian Elephant). Elephants are mammals, and the largest land animals alive today. The elephant's gestation period is 22 months, the longest of any land animal. The African and Asian elephants are separate species. African elephants, at up to 4 m (13 ft 1 in)tall and weighing 7500 kg (8.27 short tons), are usually larger than the Asian species and they have bigger ears. Both male and female African elephants have long tusks, while their Asian counterparts have shorter ones, with those of females vanishingly small. African elephants have a dipped back, smooth forehead and two "fingers" at the tip of their trunks, whereas the Asian have an arched back, two humps on the forehead and only one "finger" at the tip of their trunks. The Asian elephants' decline has possibly been more gradual with the causes primarily being poaching and habitat destruction by human encroachment.

 

          There are several subspecies of Elephas maximus and some have been identified only using molecular markers. The first subspecies is the Sri Lankan Elephant (Elephas maximus maximus). Found only on the island of Sri Lanka , it is the largest of the Asians. Another subspecies, the Indian Elephant (Elephas maximus indicus) makes up the bulk of the Asian elephant population. Numbering approximately 36,000, these elephants are lighter grey in colour, with depigmentation only on the ears and trunk. The smallest of all the elephants is the Sumatran Elephant (Elephas maximus sumatranus). Population estimates for this group range from 2,100 to 3,000 individuals. It is very light grey and has less depigmentation than the other Asians, with pink spots only on the ears. In 2003 a further subspecies was identified on Borneo . Named the Borneo pygmy elephant, it is smaller and tamer than other Asian elephants. It also has relatively larger ears, longer tail and straighter tusks. 

 

        Elephants are herbivores, spending 16 hours a day collecting plant food. Their diet is at least 50% grasses, supplemented with leaves, bamboo, twigs, bark, roots, and small amounts of fruits, seeds and flowers. Because elephants only digest 40% of what they eat, they have to make up for their digestive system's lack of efficiency in volume. An adult elephant can consume 140-270 kg (300–600 lb) of food a day. 60% of that food leaves the elephant's body undigested.