The Kaziranga National Park boasts of a huge population of the Indian Elephants.
The Indian Elephant (Elephas maximus indicus) of Kaziranga National Park is one of three recognized subspecies of the Asian elephant and native to mainland Asia. Since 1986, ‘Elephas maximus’ has been listed as Endangered by IUCN as the population has declined by at least 50% over the last 1 to -1 years or three generations. Asian elephants are threatened by habitat loss, degradation and fragmentation.
In general, Asian elephants are smaller than African elephants and have the highest body point on the head. The tip of their trunk has one finger-like process. Their back is convex or level. Indian elephants reach a shoulder height of between 2 and 3.5 m, weigh between 2,000 and 5,000 kg, and have 19 pairs of ribs. Their skin color is lighter than of maximus with smaller patches of depigmentation, but darker than of sumatranus. Females are usually smaller than males, and have short or no tusks.
A Herd of Adult Wild Elephants with Calf inside the Forest Reserves of Kaziranga National Park ~ Kaziranga ~ Assam ~ India
The Asiatic Elephant species differ from the African Elephants being smaller in size with smaller tusks. These tusks of Elephants are made out of ivory and is the main reason for their near extinction as poachers hunt down these Elephants of Kaziranga National Park due to their tusks. Elephant tusks can often weigh up to 22 kilograms a pair and fetch thousands of dollars in the black markets. Across India, the Asiatic Elephants come under the Elephant conservation project and their population is now restricted to the Elephant Reserves and protected areas in India. In India, there is a nationwide conservation effort to protect this species from being extinct. Apart from Kaziranga National Park, Manas National Park and Nameri National Park in Assam, these Asiatic Elephants in India can be spotted at the Periyar, Bandipur, Corbett, Palamuru and Nagarhole National Park.
The Asiatic Elephants of Kaziranga National Park are the largest mammals of land on Earth next only to the Blue Whale species. The culture of Asia has always revered the Elephant species and these elephants perform as an integral part of many religious festivals in the Asian countries especially India. These Asiatic Elephants have often been domesticated since times immemorial to serve in transportation or move heavy objects from one place to another. But with losing habitat and continuous poaching these mighty beasts in the wild are now endangered and just like Rhinoceros, tigers and lions have now come under the threat of being extinct forever. Kaziranga National Park’s conservation success stories is not limited to the Rhinoceros and Tigers only but also to the Asiatic Wild Elephants and now Kaziranga National Park has a noticeable number of the population of the Asiatic Elephant species.
The Indian Elephants at Kaziranga National Park are classified as megaherbivores and consume up to 150 kg of plant matter per day. They are generalist feeders, and both grazers and browsers. In India, elephants are recorded to feed on 112 different plant species, most commonly of the order Malvales, and the legume, palm, sedge and true grass families. They graze on the tall grasses, but the portion consumed varies with season.
The Indian Elephants of the Kaziranga National Park generally feed in the early mornings and the late afternoons. The Elephants of Kaziranga choose forested parts of their area to continue feeding on branches, leaves and fruits. These Elephants prefer to spend time in and around the water bodies of the Kaziranga National Park. Kaziranga has some of the best skilled Elephant handlers in the Country known as ‘Mahouts’. These ‘Mahouts’ assist in ferrying visitors into the Kaziranga National Park across the Elephant Safari options at the Kaziranga National Park. The Indian Rhinoceros of Kaziranga, in particular, allow Elephants to approach much closer than they allow the Jeep Safari vehicles.
The Indian Elephants at Kaziranga National Park prefer feeding in the open durings the early mornings and late afternoons. When the sun is high, the Elephants of Kaziranga choose forested parts of their range to continue feeding on branches, leaves, barks and fruits whose seeds will be dispersed near and far. As with Elephants everywhere, at Kaziranga too, these species spend considerable time near water-bodies.
In Asia, these majestic Asiatic Elephants are found across India extending up to Sri Lanka and Sumatra. The Asiatic Elephants of Kaziranga National Park, often stay in herds and have a matriarchal family group viz. the groups is led by the largest and oldest female in the group. Elephant herds of Kaziranga National Park consists of up to 100 elephants roaming in the wild. The male elephants however, can be associated with a herd, solitary or at times live temporarily live with other males. The Asiatic Elephants are known to be social animals and often stay together while they go out in search of food and water. Even when they are on the move, the Elephant herd is led by a female elephant only. Standing tall at above 10 feet, the male elephant often weighs up to 11,900 pounds while the female averages around 6000 pounds. The Asiatic Elephants are mega herbivores and feed on grasses, bamboo, leaves, shoots, barks, palms, creepers, etc. They often feed up to 330 pounds in a single day that also comprises of fruits like wood apple and mango. Elephants also drink water everyday and prefer to stay close to water sources at the Kaziranga National Park.
So why wait?! Plan your visit to spot the Largest Mammals of Asia ~ the Asiatic Elephants at the Kaziranga National Park, the State of Assam, Incredible India!
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