The Indian Elephant goes back to the mythologies. As the Gods (Deva) and the demons ( Asura) churned the oceans during sagar manthan ( sagar = sea ; manthan = churning ) for the elixir of life - amrit ( nectar ) that would make them immortal , there surfaced the navratnas ( nine jewels ). One of these jewels was the elephant. The elephant is, therefore, considered absolutely precious to be preserved and protected like the way jewels are.
The Asian elephant is one of three species in the order Proboscidea, the others being the Savanna elephant and the Forest elephant. The Indian elephant (Elephas maximus indicus) is a one of three subspecies or races of the Asian elephant ''Elephas maximus".
The other two subspecies of the Asian elephant are E. m. sumatranus on Sumatra and E. m. maximus of Sri Lanka. The Indian elephant for example, is larger, has longer front legs and a thinner body than the Asian elephant found in Thailand. Through adaptive radiation, elephants until the Pleistocene Era (2 million years ago) had spread throughout the world except for Australia, New Zealand and Antarctica. Their sheer size was a factor in allowing this wide radiation and they could be found in a wide variety of habitats from desert to high mountain forest areas.
Elephants in general are the largest existing land mammals and they have the biggest brains in the animal kingdom (weighing 5 kg or 11 lbs). Elephants are endowed with versatile trunks, which have over 100,000 muscles units that make it extremely dexterous. This incredible dexterity enables an elephant to pick up very small items and use their trunks for a wide variety of functions. The trunk has no bones or cartilage except for a tiny bit of cartilage at the tip of the trunk which separates the nostrils; each nostril is lined with a membrane.