Reproduction: The testes are located within the abdominal cavity. The large penis
may weigh about 50 kg. The captive male attains sexual maturity at 8-10 years of
age, while the female may reach at as early as 6 years. The length of estrus cycle
ranges from 120-130 days. There is a seasonal variation in breeding. Usually the
female drops a single calf after a long gestation period of 20-22 months. The
newborn calf is about 3 ft height and weighs about 90 kg. The newborn is able to
walk after an hour of birth. The young is nursed by its mother for about four
years. The male leaves the group at about 10-15 years of age. A pair of teats is
located in between the anterior legs and the young suckles by its mouth within
two hours of birth. The elephants are capable of reproducing calves up to 60
years or more with an average calving interval of four years. So, a female may
deliver 10-12 calves in her life time.
Behaviour: Elephants are very intelligent animals. They are found in herds. The herd comprises of the females and their young. Asian herd comprises 10-20 or more elephants.The dominant female leads the herd. However, males sometimes join the groups. They use their sense of smell to find out each other. The older bulls usually live singly. The large family unit may split into small groups during scarcity of food. In the wild, elephant sometimes digs a hole with its forefeet to get water. They also take dust bath in absence of water. Elephants migrate seasonally for food, water etc. They roam sixteen to eighteen hours for feeding in wild. Elephants have a strong liking for salts and minerals. They often have a mud bath (wallowing). The mud plaster provides a protection against insect bites and overheating. Elephants sleep for two to four hours normally before dawn.Another important physiological and behavioural state of male elephant called musth is observed in elephants. It is a phenomenon where male elephants, both domesticated and wild, on attaining maturity, are sometimes subject to excitement and misbehaviour and this seems to have some correlation with sexual function. This aspect of biology has been observed in Asian elephants since ancient times but this has been recognized in African elephants more recently. The onset of musth can be observed from swelling of the temporal glands and the secretion of fluid streams down the cheeks of the elephants. The temporal glands which are located between the eyes and the ears, secret a thick and dark brownish in colour with a pungent smell oily substance called musth fluid. The duration of musth may last from a few days to months depending on the age and condition of the bull. Males come into musth first between the ages of 15 to 20 years. However, the average age of onset of musth in African elephants has been reported as 29 years. Although it is not properly understood about the physiological links between body conditions and musth, there is enough literary information regarding the role of good nutrition and body conditions for successful expression of musth in bull elephants. Besides oily secretions from enlarged temporal glands, the other observations seen in musth include increased aggressive behaviour, dribbling of urine, decreased response to commands of handlers (mohouts), and reluctant to take feed and water. Musth seems to have some correlation with the sexual behaviour. The high level of testosterone (20-40 ng/ml) has been observed in musth bull as compared to 0.2 to 1.4 ng/ml in nonmusth bull.
Life span: They may live up to 70 years in the wild. The life span in captivity may be more.