The time, effort, and authority necessary to collect data on this scale is challenging and is best suited for major, reputable conservation organizations, such as the IUCN. The availability of data on elephants is inconsistent across areas. In some areas, they have been surveyed extensively and with a high degree of confidence, whereas in other areas, no data exists or sources are unreliable. It can also be challenging to determine if elephants are truly absent from an area or present but unobserved, leading to a "false absence" report. The difficulties of observing elephants in some habitats, such as dense forests, can lead to a possible underestimate in elephant range in these areas.
Determining precise range boundaries is difficult because the data is less accurate at the edges of the range. Also, some range boundaries may be somewhat arbitrary, as surveys may stop at natural barriers, such as rivers or mountain ranges, or borders of national parks or countries, and this ignores elephant movement across boundaries.