|About the Book|
The Asian elephant (Elephas maximus) is a keystone species, sharing a land mass with some of the most densely populated and poorest areas in the world. The pressure brought on by these conditions has resulted in the conversion of forest cover toMoreThe Asian elephant (Elephas maximus) is a keystone species, sharing a land mass with some of the most densely populated and poorest areas in the world. The pressure brought on by these conditions has resulted in the conversion of forest cover to agriculture and villages, fragmenting elephant habitat and populations. While the Asian elephant is the well-known elephant of circuses and elephant rides, the African elephants plight in the wild has been more successfully popularized by the western media. Relatively few people are aware that the Asian elephant is critically endangered in the wild. Several distinctive anatomical characteristics differentiate the Asian elephant from the larger, more abundant African elephant (Loxodonta africana). For example, the ears of Asian elephants are smaller- the forehead has two distinct lobes, rather than the single dome of the African elephant- and, the highest point on an Asian elephant is the top of the head, versus the top of the shoulder in the African elephant. In addition, only 60 percent of male Asian elephants have tusks, while tusked males and females are the rule in the African species. Due to poaching, which selects against tuskbearing males, many localities throughout Asia have depleted numbers of mature elephant bulls, resulting in an abnormal population-age structure and sex ratio. The long-term impacts of this factor on the conservation of the Asian elephant is unknown. This report presents a summary and highlights of the work supported by the Asian Elephant Conservation Fund (Fund) during 1999-2001. The Fund is administered and coordinated by the Division of International Conservation, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), Department of the Interior.