Asian Elephants in the wild

Facts and photos of Asian Elephants

Asian Elephants are incredible. So primitive, so old, and the baby elephants are so cute! We were on a river safari in Borneo when we saw a whole family of Asian Elephants (aka Asiatic Elephants or Elephas maximus).  After seeing them in the wild, I was really curious and learned some interesting Asian elephant facts. My photography is below, also with  Asian Elephant facts that I found interesting are below:

  • Elephants are the largest land animals living today. They’re massive!
  • If you thought human pregnancy was challenging – check this out. Asian Elephant pregnancies last 22 months, baby elephants can weight 260 pounds at birth.
  • At full size, male Asian Elephants can weigh up to 12,000 pounds (5400 kg)! Females weigh up to 9000 pounds.
  • Elephants typically live for 60 years in the wild (80 years in captivity).
  • Asian Elephants can be up to 10 feet tall at the shoulder. They’re much smaller than African Elephants in mass, but are taller.
  • They have up to 20 pairs of ribs and 34 caudal vertebrae (bones that make up their tails).
  • Asian Elephants have 100,000 muscles in their trunk!
    Asian Elephants have 100,000 muscles in their trunk!
  • Trunks are the single most important feature of an elephant, with 100,000 muscles in their trunk. It’s used for feeding, watering, smelling, breathing, drinking, touching, sound/communication, washing, and also for grabbing things.
  • Asian elephants have a fingerlike feature on the end of their trunk that they can use to grab small items (African elephants have two).
  • I noticed they don’t have the same number of nails on each foot so I looked it up. Asian Elephants have five nail-like structures on each forefoot, and four on each hind foot.
Baby Asian Elephants at Sungai Kinabatgangan in Malaysian Borneo
I didn’t realize it was a baby elephant until the adult elephants came up behind

Super smart! Elephants have incredible memories and, like many primates, have very large neocortexes and are thought to be very intelligent.

Hungry Hungry Elephants? Elephants eat roots, grasses, fruit, and bark. An adult elephant can consume up to 300 pounds (136 kg) of food in a single day!

  • Endangered: Since 1986, Elephas maximus (scientific name for Asian Elephants) has been listed as endangered as the population has declined by at least 50% over the last three generations. In 2003, the wild population was estimated at between 41,410 and 52,345.
  • Top predator: humans. That’s right, they’d be doing fine if not for poaching and deforestation.
Did you know: Asian elephants are known to be right or left tusked.
Did you know: Asian elephants are known to be right or left tusked. Elephant trivia

Did you know?   Elephants can be a “righty” or a “lefty”

  • Ivory tusks are used to dig for water  and rocks, to debark trees, as levers for maneuvering fallen trees and branches, for marking trees, as weapon for offense and defense, and as protection for the trunk.
  • Asian elephants are known to be right or left tusked. [this surprised me]

Close-up of an Asian Elephant in Malaysian Borneo in Sabah - Sungai Kinabatgangan - Visit50.com

Adorable Baby Asian Elephant in the wild in Sabah Malaysia/Borneo! Visit50.com
I never thought I’d find Baby Elephants to be adorable but look at it!
we were THAT close to the Asian Elephants
We were THAT close to the elephants on the Kinabatangan River in Sabah, eastern Malaysia, on the island of Borneo. It is the second longest river in Malaysia,
Baby Asian Elephant close-up, taken at along the Kinabatangan River (Sungai Kinabatangan) in Sabah, eastern Malaysia, on the island of Borneo. It is the second longest river in Malaysia, in Sabah, eastern Malaysia, on the island of Borneo. It is the second longest river in Malaysia - Visit50.com
Baby Elephant close-up – loved having my D-SLR lens to zoom in to snap this photo

I photographed the Asian Elephants on this page on The Kinabatangan River, located in Sabah, eastern Malaysia, on the island of Borneo. It is the second longest river in Malaysia. 

If you’re visiting, and are interested in the same adventure – I booked mine through Nature Lodge Kinabatangan. Note, they said seeing elephants is rare and unexpected. They typically spot crocodiles, monkeys, lots of rare birds, and occasionally an orangutan (but all the way up in the trees).

Additional resources: Trip AdvisorLonely Planet, Wonderful Malaysia.

I’ve often been asked, which camera should I buy to get photos like these?  I’ve been putting together a post to answer that here.

Slideshow – elephants (and baby elephants) in the wild!

It wasn’t the first time seeing baby wildlife in my trip – the baby orangutans and baby monkeys in Borneo were adorable!  I also saw other types of animals – tarsiers, macaquesproboscis monkeys, sharks, camelspythons, and more! Thanks to Nat Geo, Wikipedia.

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