All the recent additions to the Show us Your Elephants thread got me thinking about adding some of the photos of Asian elephants I've taken in various places but rather than add them there I felt it would be appropriate to start a new thread.
So if anyone has photos or videos of elephants taken anywhere in Asia, please add them here.
The Asian Elephant Elephas maximus was once distributed from Syria in the West (until 100bc) to Vietnam in the East and from Northern China south to Indonesia. Now only scattered populations remain in India, Sri Lanka and South East Asia aside from being extinct in West Asia they have also become extinct in nearly all of China with just 300 or so remaining in the far south in Yunnan, they’re also extinct on the Indonesian Island of Java. Somewhere in between 2,000 to 3,000 of the subspecies Elephas maximas sumatranus still survive on the island of Sumatra and around 1,500 so called Bornean Pygmy elephants survive in the Malaysian province of Sabah on the island of Borneo with perhaps just a further 80 in the neighbouring Indonesian province of Kalimantan.
According to local legend Borneo’s elephants were introduced to the island in the 18th century by the Sultan of Sulu, though this might seem very unlikely, at the time it was not unusual for domestic elephants to be shipped from one place to another. However recent genetic analysis seems to have disproved this theory indicating that Borneo’s elephants have been separated from the those on Sumatra for around 300,000 yrs and are therefore clearly of Bornean origin. Although if this is the case and they’ve been on Borneo for that length of time it’s remarkable that they appear to have only ever occupied a relatively small of North-eastern Borneo and that no fossil remains of elephants (or virtually none) have been found on Borneo. This has led to the intriguing idea that the Sultan of Sulu legend could in fact be true that elephants are of introduced origin but that they were brought from Java where elephants are now extinct. At present their exact origins have not been determined for certain but what is clear is that they are unique to Borneo and that the name pygmy elephant is a misnomer as they are in fact on average no smaller than Asian elephants found on the mainland in West Malaysia.
Asian elephants are in decline everywhere their total population is often put at somewhere between 40-50,000 but really this is no more than a guess and the higher figure is almost certainly an over estimate.
More on Asian elephants
Unfortunately whoever created this IUCN redlist range map forgot to include the Borneo population
While the total remaining elephant population is not known what is known is that at least 50% of them are in India and one of the largest populations of Indian elephants Elephas maximus indicus is in the south west.
One of the best places to see them there is from a boat on Periyar Lake in Periyar NP in Kerala.
Edited by inyathi, 19 December 2013 - 07:49 PM.