The Indian Elephant, Elephas maximus indicus, is one of four subspecies of the Asian Elephant, the largest population of which is found in India. This subspecies is also found in Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, Laos, Peninsular Malaysia, Burma/Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Thailand and Vietnam.
The other three subspecies of the Asian Elephant are the Sumatran Elephant (Elephas maximus. sumatranus), Sri Lankan Elephant (Elephas maximus maximus) and Borneo Elephant (Elephas maximus borneensis). Indian Elephants live in or near the forest jungle, although their habitat may vary. They tend to be nomadic and roaming in nature and do not stay in one place for more than a few days. They can live in jungles but gravitate towards areas that contain open space and grass. The Indian Elephant is up to 6.4 metres (21 ft) long. Its height at the shoulder is between 2 and 3.5 metres (6.6 and 11.5 ft) and it weighs between 2.7 and 4.5 tonnes (3.0 and 5.0 short tons). It is taller and thinner than the Asian elephant found in Thailand. The Indian elephant is known for its large amounts of defecation in one time. The largest Indian Elephant was 8 metres (26 ft) long, stood 3.5 metres (11 ft) and weighed 8 tonnes (8.8 short tons). Since Indian Elephants are a subspecies of the Asian Elephants, there are not many differences. Indian elephants have smaller ears, but relatively broader skulls and larger trunks than African elephants. Females are smaller than males and have little or no tusks. Toes are large and broad. The feet and nails are not large. Unlike their African cousins, their abdomen is proportionate with their body weight but the African elephant has a large abdomen as compared to the skulls.
The WWF considers the Indian Elephant widely distributed, but endangered. The current population of the Indian Elephant is in the range of 20,000-25,000. The Indian Elephant was assessed as an endangered species in 1996 by the Asian Elephant Specialist Group. Indian Elephants are threatened by poaching for the ivory of their tusks, by the loss of habitat due to human pressure on forested areas and due to human conflict. The isolated populations of wild elephants in individual wildlife sanctuaries are also threatened by loss of habitat.
www.pocanticohills.org says ” The Indian Elephant is endangered because the tusks are made of ivory which is highly prized by hunters and collectors.”.
abcnews.go.com reports quoting Maneka Gandhi ” India’s elephant population is teetering on the brink of extinction because of rampant poaching and brutal training methods.
www.environmentalgraffiti.com reports –
Few animals can threaten Indian elephants. Males are dangerous individuals, and herds will circle their young to protect them. However, the Indian elephant is indeed on “Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species and are considered endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature”, according to Animal Diversity .
Human poaching is the most publicized danger. The tusks continue to be valued for ivory – whether or not most of the world has banned trading in this commodity. Since only male Indian elephants have tusks, the females have not faced the same risks as their African cousins. Nonetheless, sometimes the male/female ratio is an unsustainable one to one hundred (1:100).
In India, perhaps the worst danger to the elephant is human encroachment on existing habitats. The human need for farmland cannot be questioned; but elephants may be paying the price. So are the unfortunate farmers who are trampled – several hundred die annually in human/elephant confrontations.
In addition, the new farmland is precisely where elephants – with their proverbial long memories – had been grazing for food. When they find that nutritious vegetables have replaced grass and trees, the elephants will gladly eat the farmers’ crops. Predictably, ftoften retaliate with violence.
Organizations such as the World Wildlife Fund and government agencies in India are actively trying to protect the Indian elephant population, currently estimated to be 28,000 to 42,000 in the wild. In September 2010, Indian Environment minister Jairam Ramesh announced that the elephant is a “national heritage animal” to be accorded the same protection “…as bestowed upon the mighty tiger”.
Some 3,500 elephants are “working” in India. Around the world, elephants grace zoos and circuses. Historic cultural influences in India may also enhance the elephants’ chance of survival. The elephant is one of the “nine jewels” (“navratnas”) which surfaced as deva and asura (gods and demons) searched for the elixir of life in the oceans. Hopefully the religious requirement to protect this jewel of an animal will indeed help the Indian elephant survive.
www.iucnredlist.org also listed Elephant as endangered in their assessment of 2008.
Now, here goes the good news, today Anandabazar Patrika reported that there has been a significant rise in the number of elephants in West Bengal and in North Bengal itself the number have crossed 500 with 150 infants. In Dooars itself the number has crossed 200 by now in the recently started elephant census which took off on 23rd November 2010. Also, in Dalma, there is another hundred. Though the state is worried about this sudden population rise and they have written to Central Minister Jairam Ramesh. The State Government is worried because there is every possibility that this number explosion may lead to elephants to come out of forest areas as there will be shortage of food for them in the wild and they might attempt entering nearby villages in search of food and thereby would certainly destroy local agriculture thereat. The State Government is suspecting increased man-elephant conflict which might again lead to casualties in both sides. Elephants generally eat for 20 hours out of 24 hours. They need at least 6 to 8 % of their body weight as food every day with another 80-100 litres of water daily. More so, this rise in elephant population will create deepen the acute crisis of their space of stay in the wild too.
But, we are happy, despite this ensuing dangers, we are delighted as we strongly feel that we will come up with some solutions to this, but at the end of day, we succeeded in crossing all odds and have allowed at least one endangered species to grow on its own.
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