Image CourtesyAmila Tennakoon

Back in prehistoric times there were in fact 350 different species of elephants; there are now just two, African and Asian, but within the two there are different types, 2 in Africa, 3 in Asia. In Africa the Savannah Elephant is far larger than the Forest Elephant, four metres and seven tonnes is perfectly possible in the former. In Asia there are the grey Sri Lankan (Elephas Maximus Maximus), the lighter grey Mainland (Elephas Maximus Indicus) and very light grey Sumatran Elephants (Elephas Maximus Sumatranus). The Asian Elephant is smaller, with a double bulged forehead, smaller ears than its African cousin and the females have no tusks. Even some males have no tusks and even when they do they are much smaller than those in Africa.
Another thing that differentiates the two is the level of intelligence. The Asian has superior intelligence which has been a factor in its interaction with Man. It can easily be trained.
Man’s demand for ivory remains a major concern although there are still significant elephant numbers in Africa; perhaps 500,000. However the elephant is now considered endangered with Asian numbers now perhaps as low as 30,000. Thailand now has just a few thousand in the wild while the tame ones used as tourist attractions show the extent to which elephants have been exploited in that country. The fortunate statistic with regard to the Sri Lankan Elephant is that very few have ivory yet the species is still endangered.


African Elephant-  Image Courtesy |Megan Coughlin