Site hosted by Build your free website today!

Ceylon Elephant

Only 3000 left in the wild

Order: Proboscidea

Family: Elephantidae

Genus & Species: Elephas maximus maximus


The Ceylon elephant is a subspecies of the Asian elephant. The only distinguishable feature of this elephant is its enlarged size. It can grow to be 11 ft. 6 in. in shoulder height and can weigh up to 5 tons. It can grow to be 21 ft. in length with a tail length of 4-6 ft. The females are smaller than the males. Only the males have tusks, and even that is rare. The skin can vary in colour from different shades of dark grey to dark brown. Mature males have a pinkish colour around their ears, face and trunk. Both males and females have large bulges on their heads although the ones on the females are smaller. Their bodies are sparsely covered in hair. The males have well-rounded backs and the females have square backs. The trunk can weigh from 275-440 pounds. They have a life expectancy of 55-60 years.


The Ceylon elephant lives in the mountain forests, open savannas, grasslands, and marshes of the island of Sri Lanka. The are found in national parks and the eastern and northeastern areas of the island.


The Ceylon elephant's main diet is grass, although it also eats fruit, tender branches, and climbing herbaceous plants. It will not eat the woody parts, unlike the African elephant. Water is indespensable to them. They will eat 220-330 pounds of food and drink 20-40 gallons of water daily. 45% of the food they eat is passes through undigested so they must eat constantly.


As with all elephants, the Ceylon elephant's main enemy is man. The island's natives hunted the elephants for their tusks or for domestic purposes and also cut down the trees that made up their homeland. At the turn of the century there were 10000 elephants on Sri Lanka. Today there are only 2500-3000 left in the wild, with 500 more remaining in captivity. There are a number of sizeable herds left on wildlife preserves although it is hard to tell if they are purebred due to crossbreeding with imported elephants.


Sexual maturity is reached between 8 and 12 years. The gestation period is 18-20 months. The calves weigh 175-200 pounds at birth. The females give birth to one calf every 4-6 years and can give birth to 7 calve in her lifetime.


There are three other subspecies of the Asian elephant besides the Ceylon: the Indian, Malaysian, and Sumatran elephants. They are all related to the African elephant.


1. Animal Card "Ceylon Elephant", Italy