World's Largest Asian Elephant May Be Dead

The world's largest Asian elephant may be dead.

Raja Gaj, a bull (male) elephant who stands nearly 12 feet tall at the shoulder, has not been seen for a year in Nepal's Royal Bardia National Park, Japan Today reported Tuesday.

Raja Gaj was the subject of scientific speculation several years ago, as his sheer size and peculiarly domed head led some to wonder if he might be a genetic throwback to extinct species such as the mammoths and mastodons.

But a DNA test later confirmed he was a regular Asian elephant.

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The giant bull is the national park's main attraction, though it does feature several other species as well as one of the last remaining wild herds of Asian elephants in the world.

Chief conservation officer Phanindra Kharel acknowledged that Raja Gaj may have been killed by poachers, "but we can't confirm it yet."

Asian elephants, with about 60,000 living individuals both wild and domesticated, are far outnumbered by their larger African cousins and are considered an endangered species.

• Click here for the full report at Japan Today.