Gregarious by nature, Asian elephants roam in herds of 15 to 30, usually led by an old female. These huge herbivores feed on grass, leaves, twigs and bark from more than 100 species of plants.
The average male Asian elephant weigh around 5 t (5.5 tn.) and the average female around 2.7 t (3 tn.). One exceptionally large animal was found to weigh 6.7 t (7.4 tn.). It was used in a circus.
The trunk is actually an elongation of the nose, and it has nostrils on the tip. At the very end of the trunk is a finger-like projection, which is sensitive enough to pick up objects as small as a peanut. The African elephant has two of these 'fingers'.
Unlike African elephants, where both males and females have tusks, generally only Asian elephant males sport ivory.
Asian elephants use sound to communicate. One useful sound is like that of a trumpet. And, when elephants are eating, they purr. When an individual detects danger, it stops purring, and the sudden silence alerts the others, who also fall silent.
For centuries this intelligent and docile animal has been used by humans as a beast of burden, circus performer, and even as a weapon of war. The Asian elephant is an endangered species which is threatened in the wild not only by hunting for ivory but also by habitat degradation by humans.
The Asian elephant is found in the dense forests and grassy plains of India, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Thailand, Malaya and Sumatra. This species is sometimes called the Indian elephant.