Skip to main content - The Animal Encyclopedia for Kids


Asian Elephant

Asian Elephant Facts

Size Up to 10 ft (3 m)
Speed Up to 27 mph (43 km/h)
Weight Up to 5 tons
Lifespan 55-70 years
Food Plants, fruits, roots
Predators Tiger
Habitat Asia
Order Proboscidea
Family Elephantidae
Scientific name Elephas maximus
Characteristics Trunk, tusks, round ears

Main Characteristics

The Asian elephant does not live in Africa but in Asia (logical, isn’t it?). Yet, there is not only one but three different species, and their names indicate where they come from: the Sri Lanka elephant, the Sumatra elephant and the Indian elephant.

Asian elephants are smaller than African bush elephants. Its trunk and tusks are among its most noticeable features.

Asian Elephant Photo: hangingpixels/Shutterstock

The Differences between Asian and African Elephants

1. Asian Elephants Have a Different Appearance

The Asian elephant is a bit smaller than the African elephant and has a kind of “finger” at the tip of its trunk. It has significantly smaller ears – for an obvious reason: The Asian elephant lives in the dense tropical jungle.

Other than the African elephant that mainly lives in savannahs and steppes, it is not often exposed to direct sunlight (just as the forest elephant). But what does this have to do with the elephant’s ears? Elephants use their ears as fans – the cold draught helps them to lower their body temperature.

Asian elephants have only one "finger" on the end of their trunk. African ones have two.

2. Asian Elephants Have a Different Lifestyle

African elephants are active during the day and the night. Asian elephants use the day to get some rest and do not get active before dusk.

Asian Elephant Photo: Helen E. Grose/Shutterstock

Enemies and Threats

Do Asian Elephants Have Enemies?

An adult Asian elephant has no natural enemies except of tigers that target young or weak animals. However, most tigers are among the most endangered species themselves.

Asian Elephants Are an Endangered Species

For many decades, Asian elephants were hunted because of their tusks – just like their African relatives. Many animals are still being killed by poachers nowadays, but the biggest threat is the dwindling of their natural habitat. The Asian elephant is listed as an endangered species on the IUCN red list.

Asian Elephant Photo: SurangaSL/Shutterstock


Asian Elephants "Speak" Like a Human

Yes, it’s true, there are elephants that are able to speak! The Asian elephant Koshik is rather reticent, but it can speak six words in Korean, for example "yes", "no", "sit", and "lie down". Batyr was more talkative. He could use 20 words and already close to a little chatterbox.

Unfortunately it grew up without the company of other elephants and therefore started to imitate humans. The method elephants use for talking: They stick their trunk into their mouth and put the tip of it on their tongue to form sounds that resemble human language. Scientists do not know if they really understand what they are saying.

Asian Elephant Photo: Andaman/Shutterstock

Fun Facts

Asian Elephants Make Music

In Thailand there is an elephant orchestra with 16 elephants. The grey animals make music on specially designed instruments.

The Asian Elephant Is Related To:

Animals in the Same Biome:

Elephant Species Fact Sheets


Most Read Mammal Fact Sheets

Recommended Fact Sheets

Pupils are welcome to use this information at school for animal profiles, fact sheets, essays, work sheets, presentations, posters or homework. All information appearing on this site has been precisely and thoroughly researched, nevertheless should you notice any errors, please do notify us via email.

See all topics on