Asian Elephants - The Giants of Nepal
The Asian Elephant is the largest of all mammals in Nepal. The Asian elephant's shoulder height can measure from 2.5 to 3 meters, and it can weigh up to 5 metric tonnes. These very intelligent giants have excellent memories and live as long as humans.
A huge concern for the Asian elephant in Nepal is the loss of habitat. The environment in which these elephants reside is being threatened by warfare, agricultural development and human settlement. Poaching is not such a big threat to the Asian elephant as there are only few males that grow tusks, whereas the female elephants do not grow tusks at all.
Elephants in general are very sociable. They typically live in family groups. Communication plays a very important role in the lives of Asian elephants. They use numerous sounds, scents and gentle touches to communicate and strengthen family bonds. It is interesting to note that elephants frequently communicate with sounds that people cannot hear, they are even able to do this over long distances by producing low-pitched sounds that fall below the hearing range of humans. The lower the pitch, the further the sound waves can travel until they finally die off. An example of tactile communication is: when a young Asian elephant is stressed and nervous it will go to an adult and place the tip of its trunk in the adult’s mouth.
Elephants in Asia are used for transportation in log forests. With heavy loads on their backs they walk in areas where machines are unable to navigate. About 15,000 Asian elephants are held in captivity as work animals and are also very important in Asian folklore and religion. They are believed to be cousins of the clouds and able to cause lightening.
Conflicts between Asian elephants and humans often occur because of crop damage. At times there is not enough food in small forests to sustain elephants, so they look for the nearest supply, which is usually the fields of local farmers. In Nepal the Asian Elephant Specialist Group estimates that there are approximately 38,000 to 51,000 wild Asian elephants. The female Asian elephants are capable of giving birth approximately every 4-6 years, bring about 7 calves into the world during a lifetime.
These intelligent giants are marvelous to observe, especially when you see how the trunk can be used for a wide array of tasks, from moving heavy tree trunks to picking up objects the size of a peanut.