Elephant (Elephas Maximus )

Elephant (Elephas Maximus )

- in Mammal, Fauna

ITS–G-92-1-GAJAHThe Asian elephant (Elephas maximus), called in Bahasa Indonesia Gajah, is found from India, and Sri Lanka to Indonesia. In Indonesia, it is found only in Sumatra although its fossils are also found in Java. The remaining close relative of this species is the African elephant (Loxodonta africana), whose distribution is limited in Africa. The relatively small elephant — about three meters tall and five tons in weight was once a familiar sight at the courts of Sumatran kings and sultans who rode them to war and set them to fight against each other for entertainment.

The Asian elephant lives in herds of 5-20 animals. Each herd is led by an adult elephant that is skilful at locating food and water. The herd walks in lines. At the front of the procession walks the leader, followed by the females and the young beside their mothers. Its diet consists of greens and fruits. In the dry season, its main staples are leaves and banana pith, during the rainy season young bamboo shoots. An elephant consumes around 200 kilograms of vegetation and 200 litres of water daily.

The elephant becomes sexually mature at an age of 10-12 years. In a group, only one male is entitled to mate with the females. The beaten males will stay away from the group and team up in herds of two to three males. This herd of frustrated males is very dangerous. Group loyalty is impressively expressed during birth. Two older females will assist with the birth while the rest of the herd forms a protective circle around the labouring mother. The whole herd takes great care of the calf thereafter. Calves stay with their mother until about eight years old. Its life expectancy in the wild remains unknown, but a domesticated elephant can live as long as 65 years.

Elephants cannot stand the heat thus during the day they love to stay in the shade or wallow in pools and streams. It sleeps while standing, flapping its big ears, nodding its head, moving its body to the left and right so that its weight does not rest on one side. Once a year the elephant experiences a loss of control. The elephants, either domesticated or wild, fight against each other without reason, ruin everything and sometimes attack human beings. This rebellious period comes when some kind of gland oozes out its eyes. For tourist attractions, the Indonesian government has established several elephant training centres since 1986, including the Way Kambas National Park in Lampung province and in the provinces of Aceh, Riau, and South Sumatra.

Scientific Classification:

Kingdom         : Animalia

Phylum            : Chordata

Class                : Mammalia

Order               : Proboscidea

Family             : Elephantidae

Genus              : Elephas

Species            : E. maximus

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