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Keystone in Crisis

June 20, 2007

Asian elephant Elephas maximus, a keystone species across its ranges, almost

everywhere else, is under considerable danger. Today the future of elephant is threatened

by several factors. The elephant has played a significant role in our social and cultural life

since time immemorial than any other animal. In older days it ranges across Tigris-

Euphrates in West Asia eastward to Yangtze Kiang and perhaps upto northern China.

Present day distribution of elephants is however drastically reduced to few pockets in

biologically rich forest of tropical Asia.

Asian elephant is believed to be comprised of three subspecies
Elephas maximus

maximus (occurring in Sri Lanka island), Elephas maximus indicus (mainly occurring inmainland Asia) and

Elephas maximus sumatranus (in island of Sumatra). Currently itsdistribution covers an estimated area of nearly 500 000 km2, probably sharing a total

population of around 50 000 individuals. However these estimations are mostly guesses,

proper estimates are available from few parts of India and Sri Lanka only. The taming of

this giant probably started way back during Indus Valley Civilization around 4000 years

ago and as capture went on its number started dipping. However its African cousin

Loxodonta africana suffered because of severe... [More]
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