An elephant is the largest land mammal found on earth. It is easily identified by its distinctly large physical features and a trunk. Tusks of an elephant are considered valuable in the illegal market. Elephants are found in the wild; though, they are also domesticated by humans for various purposes.
Short and Long Essay on Elephant
Essay 1 (250 Words)
We all are familiar with what an elephant looks like and probably its distinct physical features. What we don’t seem to know is how precious they are to the environment and ecology. They are commercially used by humans and provide bread and butter to millions of families, only in the Indian subcontinent alone.
Domestication of Asian Elephants
Asian elephants are domesticated for a number of purposes including transport, shifting heavy loads, as a status symbol, during religious processions, in temples, etc. Many families in the Indian subcontinent rely entirely on the elephant for earning their livelihoods. Thousands of animals in India and other Asian countries are currently under domestication for several purposes.
Population and Threats
According to the 2017 census, there are a total of around 27, 000 elephants, which is around 55% of the total world population. Their endangered status since 1986 has helped in improving its population considerably. Prior to that, they were poached heavily for their tusk and other body parts.
Though, the illegal trade and poaching almost stopped, shrinking habitat is the most immediate threat that the Asian elephant faces. Habitat destruction is leading to rising human-elephant conflict which is damaging for both. Elephants have been known to venturing into villages in search of food, too which the inhabitants panic and resort in a way that often injures or frightens the animals, making them consider humans as their enemies.
Shrinking elephant habitat is not good for the elephants or for humans as well. Governments and animal rights groups must chart out an effective plan to retain the natural habitat of elephants without compromising the livelihood of humans.
Essay 2 (400 Words)
An elephant is the largest existing land mammal which is distinctly recognized by its large and distinguished features. They have a trunk, two tusks, large ears and a bulky body that could weigh anything between 1200 to 5000 Kgs.
Uses of Elephants by Humans
Despite their heavy size, elephants have been used by humans for centuries, due to their calm and peaceful nature. Elephants are usually calm unless instigated, making them suitable for domestication. They are used for several purposes due to their sheer strength. Several uses of elephants by humans are described below-
- In Warfare
In history, elephants have been trained by humans for combat situations. Their colossal appearance and sheer pleasure were used to instill terror in the enemy ranks and break their progression. However, sometime down the line, advance weaponry has made war elephants redundant and ineffective.
- Status Symbol
Elephants are very costly to maintain and require a mahout (person who tends to the elephant) working full time along with the requirement of food and water. An elephant can eat up to 150 kg of food and drink up to 40 liters of water in a day. For this reason, many existing princely states and landlords, domesticate elephants as a status symbol.
- Working Animal
Elephants have immense strength and their trunk provides dexterity to perform tasks involving heavy loads. Even to this day, elephants are used to lift and shift heavy logs of woods or trees that would have otherwise required a small army of labors.
- In Temples
In India elephants also have religious significance. One of the most revered Hindu deities, Lord Ganesha, is a half elephant half man. Temple in Southern India, especially in Kerala, domesticates elephants to take part in annual religious congregations. These elephants are decorated and paraded in full public view during religious functions.
- Jungle Tourism
Due to their huge size, elephants are avoided by big carnivores like tigers and leopards; thereby making them a safe mount for jungle safaris. Also, they are capable of walking difficult terrains and can reach where vehicles can’t. For these qualities, elephants are widely used for tourism by the forest department.
The relationship of elephants with humans is centuries old. Human’s cleverness and elephants’ peaceful nature is the fuel that keeps the relationship going. However, in taking advantage of them we must not forget that they are the gift of god and extremely useful for ecology and must be protected at all costs.
Essay 3 (600 Words)
Elephants are the largest land mammals from the family Elephantidae. Another member of the family is now an extinct mammoth. An elephant is the only surviving member of the Elephantidae family.
Characteristics and Behavior of Elephants
- Physical Characteristics
Elephants are the largest land animals with an imposing presence. Their physical features are distinct and huge in proportion to other animals. Depending on the species and geographical location, elephants’ height varies from 2.7 mtr to 3.2 mtr. The weight of an elephant can vary from 1800 Kg to 6300 Kg. They also have large and round fan-like ears.
The most distinct feature of an elephant is the trunk, which is an extension of the nose and upper lip. The trunk is a very useful organ for an elephant and is used for a number of purposes like breathing, holding, grasping, drinking, etc. In the end, the trunk has two lips like extensions that the elephant uses for picking up small items.
- Behavioral Characteristics
Despite their large body and unmatchable strength, elephants generally are very silent and tend to mind their own business, unless provoked. They are herbivorous and their diet mostly consists of leaves, twigs, roots, barks, etc. They often use their trunk to pluck leaves and branches from trees. Bull elephants have tusks, which is an extension of their teeth on both sides of the trunk. Elephants usually feed all day long and can consume up to 150 kgs of food in a day. Also, they love water and are more likely to found near a water source.
Elephants are also highly social animals and live in small to large groups consisting of males, females, and calves. The oldest and probably the strongest elephant head of the family. Their behavior in a group is similar to that of humans that is they show consideration, support, affection, and protection towards each other. Sometimes, stray bull elephants not belonging to any clan are also spotted. Such animals are referred to as rogue and usually in search of a suitable clan to join or going through a periodic condition called ‘masth’. Bull elephants in masth have a large production of reproductive hormones, making them extremely aggressive.
Species of Elephant
Three distinct species of elephants are currently recognized all over the globe. They are as described below-
1. African Bush Elephant
This species of the elephant is the largest of them all and could reach up to a shoulder height of 4 meters. Both males and females have tusks that grow only at an age of 2-3 years. As the name suggests this species is found in Africa. They inhabit grasslands, wetlands, and woodlands. Bull elephants usually live in large bachelor groups.
2. African Forest Elephant
This species of African elephant inhabits West Africa and Congo Basin. It is by far the smallest of all the species reaching up to a shoulder height of 2.5 mtr. Both males and females have down-pointing tusks with males having larger tusks. It feeds on leaves, fruits, and seeds, etc. and contribute largely to maintaining the ecological balance, earning the sobriquet ‘mega gardener of the forest’, for itself.
3. Asian Elephant
The Asian elephant is distributed along with Asia and is found in countries like India, Nepal, China, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Indonesia, etc. It is listed as endangered and the hunt of Asian elephants is prohibited by law in several countries. Average male Asian elephants reach up to 2.75 mtr at the shoulder.
An elephant is the largest mammal on earth and plays a significant role in the ecology of a forest. In the past elephants have been poached for illegal trade; therefore, they are listed as endangered and protected by law.
FAQs: Frequently Asked Questions
Ans. Elephants are native to the Asian and African continent.
Ans. The name of the collective group of elephants is called Memory.
Ans. The elephants can live for 60-70 years in the wild.
Ans. Elephants mourn and become sad when their family member dies.
Ans. Elephants do not sweat because they do not have sweat glands.
Ans. Elephants eat 16-18 hours a day and can consume about 300 kg of food every day.
Ans. There are three eyelids in an elephant.