The Habitat of Borneo Pygmy Elephants Threatened by Two Industrial Plantation Companies | WWF

The Habitat of Borneo Pygmy Elephants Threatened by Two Industrial Plantation Companies

Posted on
04 March 2013
Nunukan, East Kalimantan, 28 February 2013. 

The habitat of Borneo pygmy elephant (Elephas maximus borneensis) in Tulin Onsoi Sub-district, Nunukan District, which also part of the Heart of Borneo (HoB) area are threatened to be converted into rubber, jabon and sengon plantations. There are two industrial plantation companies that already received principal permission, and currently they are on EIA (Environmental Impact Assessment) process to acquire the industrial plantation license. Those companies are PT. Borneo Utara Lestari (PT. BUL) and PT. Intracawood Manufacturing (PT. IWM).
WWF-Indonesia analysed that 66% of the conversion area proposed by PT. BUL is inside the elephant habitat, and the conversion area proposed by PT. IWM is 100% elephant habitat. The habitat of endangered species should not be converted to industrial plantation development. The distribution of the Borneo Pygmy elephant in Indonesia is limited to the Tulit Onsoi sub-district. If the conversion plans are indeed executed, then this might cause that Kalimantan does not have any Borneo elephants anymore. The conversion is also opposed to Indonesia’s Ministry of Forestry Regulation Law No.P44/Menhut-II/2007 about Strategic and Action Plan for Sumatran and Bornean Elephant Conservation.
“The license approval for industrial plantation in elephant habitat area will give negative impact to the local community. If the area is cleared, those wild elephants will be short of feed. As the result, the elephants will forage in the community settlement, provoking conflict”, said Agus Suyitno, Human-Elephant Conflict Mitigation Officer, for WWF-Indonesia Kalimantan Timur Program. “The human-elephant conflict has been taking place since 2005. The industrial plantation development will aggravate conflicts. Therefore, the industrial plantation development licenses should be denied and their operations should be stopped".
“The companies EIA must be compatible with facts that were found in the field. The plantations may in the Forestry Cultivation Area, but they also in the natural habitat of elephant. Thus, the area should not be cleared. High risk and high cost”, said Santifil Oslo, Head of Tulin Onsoi Sub-district. 
The Borneo pygmy elephant has been classified as endangered species by the IUCN. On 2007-2012, WWF-Indonesia and Nature Conservation Agency in East Kalimantan have been conducting joint research, and the result predicted that the pygmy elephant population is around 20-80 individuals. Pygmy elephant is the smallest elephant sub-species in the world. The indigenous people of Dayak Agabag in Tulin Onsoi give this remarkable species a nickname, “Nenek” (or ‘grandmother’). According to them, elephant is a sacred animal and should not be disturbed.  
Ilay, vice chairman of the indigenous community in Sungai Tulid – one of the Borneo elephant habitat area – declared, “We expressly disclaimed if the land is cleared, because that land is also our indigenous forest. If that forest will be cleared again, Nenek will get angry and come to our village more often, destroy our plants”.
To mitigate the human-elephant conflict, the East Kalimantan Nature Conservation Agency, Nunukan District Government and WWF-Indonesia has established the human-elephant conflict mitigation task force, which membered by local community from 11 villages in Tulin Onsoi Sub-district. The main duty of this task force is to prevent and take control whenever there is a human-elephant conflict. This effort has started to show some results, because the intensity of elephant visits to the community area are now declining.

For more info, please contact:
Wiwin Effendy, Coordinator of WWF-Indonesia East Kalimantan Program 
Email:, Mobile: +628125859265

Agus Suyitno, Human-Elephant Conflict Mitigation Officer, WWF-Indonesia East Kalimantan Program
Email:, Mobile: +6282157779933

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