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elephant wallThe Asian elephant is an endangered species.  I have always heard that they are very sensitive, loving and emotional animals.  When babies are separated from their moms they become extremely depressed.  I have always been told they have feelings that match the feelings that humans have.  My friend, Hanna,  is in Asia doing a documentary about them called “Elephant Nature Park“.

One elephant she told me about is Menaka.  She was rescued by the Forest Department.  Menaka was emaciated and had a bad case of gangrene when she was picked up.  She could no longer dance or even stand on her feet.  She had been housed in appalling conditions in a garage in a Gayatri Temple in Yeshwantpur.  The only water was she had access to was from a small spicket.  The 17 year old elephant had been exploited. She is in such bad shape it is assumed she will not make it.  She receives medical services at Bannerghatta, Biological Park, and animal shelter.  Unfortunately, there are 9 other elephants that are being treated as well.  They were all rescued from Temples in the area.  It is so costly to care for these animals (RS 15 K a month for food alone) that they can only stabilize the animals before sending them on.

baby elephant

Menaka had been born with 22 other elephants in an elephant camp.  At 3 years old she got separated from the herd and was sold to Gayatri Temple, where she has been earning revenue for the temple.  She was made to walk on tarred roads in the scorching sun damaging her health and psyche.  The captive elephants suffer from untrained and unaffectionate mahouts and lack of water resources, which is essential for bathing.  The animal can turn violent if it is subjected to unlivable living conditions.

Lek, which means “little” in Thai, is a very special lady.  The name might mean little but she has a lot of courage!  She is now touring and filming a documentary, Elephant Nature Park”.  The Indian elephant is the symbol of the Asiatic elephant.  There is an urgent need to protect the wild elephant, as well as the ones suffering in human captivity.  Lek was successful in creating an artificial forest close to a village for rescued elephants.  Today 33 elephants live a hassle-free life on the 50 acres.  The Maytag River cuts across so the elephants have a lot of water.  Currently elephants have no support from the Government in Bangkok.   Lek says there are ways to help end the conflict between humans and animals.

elephant head

Currently, elephants that are captured are brought to submission so the can do hard physical work, paint for the public, give rides, etc.  Many don’t survive the process of “breaking” them.  If they do it can be a very hard life.  Elephants bring in a lot of revenue for the Asian people.

I will be posting more information once I get updates from Hanna.  Here is a link to a photo gallery.

Here is a statement Hanna sent to me:

“When you meet one in life and look into their eyes, it is so painful to think of how they are treated. They are such intelligent animals with compassion (they do weep!) and incredible memories. At Lek’s sanctuary- all of them come from a morbid past, and  though they have suffered for years at the hands of humans, they can forgive and are extremely gentle with all people who surround them. Probably because they can feel the love and a safe environment. It’s the closest to paradise they’ll get!”

elephant woods

Here are some facts about Asian elephants:

1. Giant herbivores, Asian elephants can tear down huge tree limbs or pick up small objects with their muscular trunks.

2. Physical Description: Asian elephants are huge gray animals inhabiting Asian tropical forests. Their gray coloration conceals them in their shady habitat. Elephants’ trunks, unique among living mammals, are versatile, enabling them to reach the ground, manipulate tiny objects or tear down huge tree limbs, squirt water over their backs or into their mouths, or blow dirt onto their backs during dust baths. Female Asian elephants usually lack visible tusks as do males in some populations, such as those in northeast India. Wide, padded feet enable them to walk quietly. Large, flappable ears help these huge animals cool off, although elephants often must retreat to the shade or water during the hottest part of the day.

3. Size: Asian elephants grow up to 21 feet long, stand up to 10 feet tall, and weigh up to 11,000 pounds. Females reach around eight and a half feet tall and weigh less than males. Despite their size, elephants are able to walk silently.

4. Geographic Distribution: Asian elephants live in large blocks of forest near water sources and grasslands, habitat that has been greatly reduced in the last half century. They inhabit India, Sri Lanka, Myanmar (Burma), Indonesia, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, Malaysia, Nepal, Bangladesh, and southern China.

5. Status: The Asian elephant is listed as endangered on the World Conservation Union’s (IUCN’s) Red List of Threatened Animals.

6. Habitat: Asian elephants inhabit a variety of tropical forest habitats from moist, evergreen lowland forest to dry semi-deciduous teak forests to cooler mountain forests up to 10,000 feet. They also frequent adjacent grasslands and farm areas. Their varied diet enables them to live in disturbed forests as long as they have plenty of space to move around and exploit different foods without coming into conflict with people.

7. Natural Diet: A dexterous trunk and large, rasping molars allow Asian elephants to gather and process a wide variety of vegetation, including grasses and herbs, leaves, fruit, farm crops, and bark.

8. Reproduction: Older and larger males—especially those in musth (condition of heightened testosterone levels) dominate the breeding, winning the acceptance of females in heat. Gestation takes 20 to 22 months, and usually only one calf is born. Female Asian elephants can usually breed by age 14 and usually give birth to one young every four years.

9. Life Span: In the wild, Asian elephants may live up to about 60 years but most do not live that long.

10. Behavior: Female and young male Asian elephants live in cohesive herds of related adults and their offspring. The matriarch, usually the oldest and largest female, sets the pace of the group’s activities. Herds often join with others to form large groups called clans. Males leave herds at puberty, around their 13th year, and travel alone or in bachelor groups. Elephants wander widely in search of food. Movements vary widely depending upon food availability. Asian elephants communicate via rumbles, growls, bellows, and moans. Some of these varied, low-frequency sounds may travel a mile or more.

Past/Present/Future: Asian elephants once ranged from Iraq east through Asia south of the Himalayas, into southern China and possibly south to Java. However, centuries of hunting and habitat destruction caused dramatic declines. Males are still killed for their tusks, although this happens less often today thanks to a global ivory ban, in place since 1989. Today, Asian elephants thrive mostly in large remote reserves as well as in and among human habitation. Where elephants and people inhabit the same area, conflicts often occur.

Elephants can cause great damage to crops, and they occasionally kill people. Males in musth are responsible for the majority of attacks. Elephants play important roles in the cultures and religions of countries in most of their range, which inspires support for habitat protection measures, continued studies about elephants and their conservation needs, and efforts to mitigate conflicts between elephants and people.

Information found here.

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4 Responses to “Asian Elephants”

  • Karen says:

    This requires, i think, a major shift in consciousness people have about animals. you are catching my on a less than optimistic day. however, i do give to animal rescue groups, the jane goodall foundation got a donation from me a few weeks ago. I am a vegetarian. I do what I can, as small as it is.

  • Richard says:

    I have a pet communication device that can be used to monitor them, essentially find them (gps) and talk with them. The caller would be charged to follow and or talk to the elephant. This would generate interest, awareness and revenue at the same time. I believe that is what your objective is!

  • Linda says:

    I think we need to ban together and get the laws changed and we need to do it now. Count me in. If I knew where to begin I would do it!

  • Lynn says:

    “Elephants have always had a special spot in my heart. It’s horrible the way they are treated. One day they will no longer walk the earth – what then? “

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