Publication Date



The Asian elephant was studied in Sri Lanka from 1967 until 1978. Under the sponsorship of the Smithsonian Institution, six zoologists have addressed themselves to an analysis of the behavior and ecology of the Asian elephant over a period of eleven years (Figure 1). Although elephants were studied in all three national parks found in Sri Lanka, the major effort during the last seven years has been concentrated on Gal Oya National Park. Although the Asian elephant shares numerous behavioral traits with those of the African, differences may be noted. It is proposed that the major differences between the two species in terms of population structure, social groupings, and habitat utilization reflect the longer history of the Asian elephant's adaptation to a forest-grassland ecotone. An analysis of feeding rates and competition among the various large herbivores in Gal Oya National Park indicates that at certain seasons of the year, buffalo and elephants may become strong competitors. Interspecific competition among herbivores varies greatly when patterns of resource exploitation are compared among three national parks. The Asian elephant has declined significantly in recent years and may properly be considered a threatened, if not an endangered, species. Conflicts between man and elephant in Asia have a far longer history than elephant-agricultural conflicts which are developing in Africa. The elephant's survival in peninsular India is a tribute to the adaptability of human culture to accommodate another species.

Recommended Citation

Eisenberg, J. F. (1980). Ecology and Behavior of the Asian Elephant. Elephant, 1(5), 36-56. Doi: 10.22237/elephant/1521731835