Elephant Distribution

October 4, 2016

Elephant Distribution and Range

The fact that elephants can live in a variety of habitats means that they have continually been able to redistribute themselves in the wild when they needed to. They consume a variety of foods including all types of plants and fruits. They will consume twigs, leaves, roots of trees, grass, and anything else that is growing in a give location.

However, due to the actions of humans the distribution of them has become extremely limited. This is one of the many reasons why elephants are at risk of becoming extinct. Elephants need plenty of water to drink and to bathe in so they will be found in those areas, or where they can easily travel to find water.

Today elephants in the wild are only in Asia and Africa. They tend to live in both the tropical and subtropical areas. They live in all types of environments found there. This includes the desert, grasslands, swamps, and even in some mountain areas. They used to have free reign throughout these continents but that has been significantly reduced. Today you will find the majority of elephants residing on conservation reserve lands in the Savannah.

The areas where they live have varied hours of daylight, but they prefer those that offer about 12 hours a day. They don’t have very good eyesight and it is even worse at night. They spend many hours a day consuming food and this additional daylight helps them to accomplish it before darkness falls. They also need water which is why so many people are surprised to learn that they are distributed in desert areas. However, they know how to use their tusks to dig for water when they need it.

Most elephants have a migration pattern that they follow too when you are talking about them living in the wild. They move from one area to the next so that they don’t completely deplete all the plant life in a given area. This migration also helps to ensure they are able to find ample food during the various dry and rainy seasons in given areas where they are known to reside.

They can move an average of 12 to 21 miles per day depending on the age of those in their herd and the terrain. They don’t run or move extremely fast but they are known to keep a steady pace for a very long time without getting tired. They have an extremely good sense of direction and they have plenty of endurance.

There are some hopes that in the future elephant distribution can be more widely spread out. The hope is that through careful planning and management that elephants can gain some of their natural habitat back. At the very least it may be successful to introduce them to new areas where they haven’t lived for a long time. By evaluating the needs of elephants and finding environments that they can adapt to this could be possible.

However, such plans at the moment are far from being put into motion, The efforts right now have to focus on keeping the land that these elephants out there still have. Their distribution area is extremely small compared to what it used to be. Ensuring that they don’t lose any more of it is something that is going to take plenty of efforts from people that really want to make a huge impact on the world.

Since elephants can live in a variety of climates, they are found in zoos all over the world and with circus acts that travel. They seem to adjust well for the most part to the change in the habitat. However, they don’t seem to have the same drive and instincts to survive when they are in captivity as well they are in the wild.






Raman Sukumar. The Living Elephants: Evolutionary Ecology, Behaviour, and Conservation. Oxford University Press, 2003.

R. Sukumar. The Asian Elephant: Ecology and Management. Cambridge University Press, 1992.

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