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In 2003, the wild population was estimated at between 41,410 and 52,345 individuals.

The Asian elephant is primarily threatened by loss of habitat, habitat degradation, fragmentation and poaching.

Tusks serve to dig for water, salt, and rocks, to debark and uproot trees, as levers for maneuvering fallen trees and branches, for work, for display, for marking trees, as weapon for offense and defense, as trunk-rests, and as protection for the trunk. Female Asian elephants usually lack tusks; if tusks—in that case called "tushes"—are present, they are barely visible, and only seen when the mouth is open.

The enamel plates of the molars are greater in number and closer together in Asian elephants.

Muscular and tendinous ability combined with nervous control allows extraordinary strength and agility movements of the trunk, such as sucking and spraying of water or dust and directed air flow blowing.The "proboscis" or trunk consists wholly of muscular and membranous tissue, and is a tapering muscular structure of nearly circular cross-section extending proximally from attachment at the anterior nasal orifice, and ending distally in a tip or finger.The length may vary from 1.5 to 2 m (59 to 79 in) or longer depending on the species and age.Some males may also lack tusks; these individuals are called "filsy makhnas", and are especially common among the Sri Lankan elephant population.Furthermore, the forehead has two hemispherical bulges, unlike the flat front of the African elephant.

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