One of the best loved animals in the world, the elephant is today divided into two sub-species. These consist of the African Elephant and the Indian Elephant. Elephants are recognized by the sheer grandeur of their size possessing a brain that is the largest amongst all land mammals, going up to almost 5 kgs. Besides their size, the other most defining feature of elephants is their tusks. Tusks, which are basically long incisor teeth, are a characteristic feature of male elephants. However, all Indian Elephants do not possess tusks. One of the grandest animals of the jungle, the elephants in India is to a large extent different from its African counterpart. Smaller in size, theycan be recognized by their long trunks and less defined ears.
Herbivores by habit, elephants feed on barks, roots, fruits and grass. Socially, elephants are extremely friendly by nature, living in a matriarchal society and generally assembling in herds of 3 to 10. Though, the females remain with their mothers, adult male elephants are removed from the herd in order to prevent inbreeding. With an average life span of around 70 to 80 years, the mighty beast has a number of inherent traits that allow them to adapt to changing environmental conditions and thereby sustain themselves in adverse conditions.
Found in the densely populated tropical forests of the southern, northern, eastern as well as sub-Himalayan India, the Indian Elephant is regarded in most parts of the country as not just an animal but also as an extension of the Indian culture. An immensely important part of Hinduism, India's dominant religion, is the Elephant. In fact, is worshipped in many parts of the country, as an incarnation of Ganesha, The Elephant God. Historically too, Elephants have played a very important role in the country, often being regarded as an important indicator of an individual's social and economic status. Today, however these majestic creatures face a serious threat to their existence, being easy target for poachers who, influenced by the greed of ivory in the form of the tusks of elephants indulge in inhuman mutilation of these innocent beings.
The government of India has to a large extent curbed the threat of extinction that these creatures faced by establishing a number of legal acts by which the life of these creatures have been made secure. These also include the establishment of a number of conservation centers and sanctuaries in places like Periyar National Park in Kerala in South India and Corbett National Park in Uttrakhand in North India. The project elephant, one of the country's most important projects in terms of wildlife conservation is also a laudable achievement of the Indian Government.