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Asian Elephant (Elephas maximus) Fact Sheet: Distribution & Habitat

Distribution

Historic range

  • Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, eastward through Persia
  • Indian subcontinent
  • South and Southeast Asia
  • China, up to the Yangtze-Kiang

Current populations

  • Indian subcontinent (India, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh)
  • Continental Southeast Asia (China, Myanmar, Thailand, Kampuchea, Laos, Vietnam, Malaysia)
  • Asian islands (Andaman Islands, Sri Lanka, Sumatra, Borneo)

Presently occupy only 15% of historic range
India has 60% of remaining wild populations
E. m. borneensis occupied Borneo in prehistoric times; not imported from India

Habitat

Primary habitat types

  • Tropical and subtropical broadleaf forests
  • Move through vegetation zones seasonally; often found along rivers in dry months
  • Prefer transitional zones between two ecological communities (forests and grasslands)
  • In Southern India: hilly dry scrub through deciduous forest to wet evergreen forest
  • Northeastern India and Burma: swampy grasslands on river floodplains; moist deciduous forest on Himalayan slopes
  • Sri Lanka: mainly dry deciduous woodland, scrub, grassland, and marshes; small population in rainforest
  • India's Andaman Islands: swim across sea between various islands

Comparison to African elephants

  • Require more access to shade than African elephants
  • Inhabit more low visibility habitats compared to African elephants

Distribution Map

Asian elephant distribution

Asian Elephant Distribution

Adapted from www.d-maps.com
according to IUCN fact sheet
Click here or on map for detailed distribution (IUCN)

Page Citations

Kurt (1990)
Santiapillai & Jackson (1990)
Sukumar (1989, 2008)

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