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Indian elephant

The Indian elephant (Elephas maximus indicus) is one of three recognized subspecies of the Asian elephant and native to mainland Asia. Since 1986, Elephas maximus has been listed as Endangered by IUCN as the population has declined by at least 50% over the last 60 to 75 years or three generations. Asian elephants are threatened by habitat loss, degradation and fragmentation.


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Asian elephant

The Asian or Asiatic elephant (Elephas maximus) is the only living species of the genus Elephas and is distributed in Southeast Asia from India in the west to Borneo in the east. Three subspecies are recognized — Elephas maximus maximus from Sri Lanka, the Indian elephant or E. m. indicus from mainland Asia, and E. m. sumatranus from the island of Sumatra. Asian elephants are the largest living land animals in Asia.

Since 1986, E. maximus has been listed as endangered by IUCN as the population has declined by at least 50% over the last three generations, estimated to be 60–75 years. The species is primarily threatened by habitat loss, degradation and fragmentation. In 2003, the wild population was estimated at between 41,410 and 52,345 individuals. Female captive elephants have lived beyond 60 years when kept in seminatural situations, such as forest camps. In zoos, elephants die at a much younger age and are declining due to a low birth and high death rate.

The genus Elephas originated in Sub-Saharan Africa during the Pliocene ranging throughout Africa into southern Asia. The earliest indications of domestication of Asian elephants are engravings on seals of the Indus Valley civilization dated as third millennium BC.


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Elephantidae

The Elephantidae are a taxonomic family, collectively elephants and mammoths. These are terrestrial large mammals with a trunk and tusks. Most genera and species in the family are extinct. Only two genera, Loxodonta (African elephants) and Elephas (Asiatic elephants), are living.

The family was first described by John Edward Gray in 1821, and later assigned to taxonomic ranks within the order Proboscidea. Elephantidae have also been revised by various authors to include or exclude other extinct proboscidean genera.


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Elephas

Elephas is one of two surviving genera in the family of elephants, Proboscidea with one surviving species, the Asian elephant Elephas maximus.

Several extinct species have been identified as belonging to the genus, including Elephas recki, Elephas antiquus, and the dwarf elephants E. falconeri and E. cypriotes. The genus is very closely related to the mammoth genus Mammuthus.

Elephas is assigned to the proboscidean family Elephantidae and comprises one living and 10 extinct species: