Sri Lankan Elephants –  A Unique Subspecies 

Written by S. Shiva (Sri Lanka Reporter)

Photo by Anthony

Elephants are wondrous animals with their gigantic body, tiny eyes, flappy ears, and strange long nose (trunk). Despite their giant size and occasionally scary tusks, elephants tend to be generally peaceful unless they are provoked or following the mating call. As such they are viewed as close as possible by humans hungering to look at unusual forms of wildlife.

Elephants are found mainly in Africa and Asia and bear different characteristics based on their country of origin. African Elephants tend to be much larger with widespread fan-like ears, and two finger-like tips on the ends of their trunk. Asian Elephants, on the

Photo by Richard de Reus

other hand, are their smaller cousins with drooping ears and only one finger like protuberance at the tip of their trunk. However, Asian elephants too have three recognized subspecies: Indian elephants, Sri Lankan Elephants and Sumatran Elephants. Sri Lankan Elephants, in specific, are an endangered species native to the island of Sri Lanka. They have been hunted through the centuries lowering their population drastically, and now face great threat due to habitat loss and from the results of human-elephant conflict. 


Photo by Rajiv Perera

Characteristics of the Sri Lankan Elephants (Biological Name: Elephas Maximus Maximus) 

  • The largest of all Asian Elephant subspecies, standing at 2m – 3.5m 
  • Darker skin tone compared to the other Asian Elephant species. 
  • Have prominent spots and patches of pink (de-pigmented) skin on their ears, face trunk and belly 
  • Only 7% of the elephant males have tusks 


Best Places to See Sri Lankan Elephants 

Sri Lanka has the highest elephant population in Asia. Most of the elephants inhabit the following national park areas: 

  • Udawalawe National Park
  • Yala National Park
  • Lunugamvehera National Park 
  • Wilpattu National Park
  • Minneriya National Park