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  Indian Elephants
 


Elephants
are the largest living land mammals. At birth it is common for an elephant calf to weigh 100 kg. It takes 20 to 22 months for a baby elephant to mature to birth, the longest gestation period of any land animal.

An elephant may live as long as 70 years
In India, elephants have been an integral part of their cultural history, dating as far back as the Vedic Period (1500B.C. to 600B.C.) References are made in these early times to their domesticity and tameness.

Elephants eventually gained a higher status than the horse, which was an extremely important animal in Indian culture. The elephant became the carrier (vahana) of Indra, the King of the Gods. They were also prominent in the stories of Buddha with elephant festivals and processions being commonplace. By 231B.C. the elephant had become the emblem of Buddhism and they appeared as prominent features in artistic carvings. Elephant possession and use as a royal mount was firmly established and along with this they became an asset of war.

War elephants in India were used from the 1st millennium B.C. to the early 19th century. A staggering number of elephants have died fighting wars during India’s history.

 
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It was not until the introduction of muskets in mid-1700, that elephants were no longer needed to fight in the front lines of battle. However, their importance for use was not diminished because they could still transport soldiers, ammunition and supplies over extremely rough terrain where men could not go alone.

All elephants in private ownership in India were put into active military service to defend their borders against the Japanese who had invaded Burma and Southeast Asia during WWII. It was not until the introduction of the 4-wheel drive vehicle that the role of the elephant in India’s commissariat ended.
Today elephants are still used as status symbols in some temples, in circuses, and by the forest and tourism department of the government. It stands as a symbol of eternal India.
 
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