The Elephant Transboundary Landscape in the Heart of Borneo
Editor: Iwan Wibisono
The Sabah’s government officials and the WWF-Malaysia team may have learned more about the elephant transboundary landscape in the Heart of Borneo (HoB), through the participation in a study visit, held last February in Nunukan and Tulin Onsoi Sub District, North Kalimantan, where the only habitats for the Bornean Elephants (Elephas maximus borneensis) on the Indonesian side. The study visit also provided an opportunity for a dialogue between the governments of Nunukan District, North Kalimantan Province and Sabah Governments.
This was a collaboration activity organized by WWF-Indonesia and WWF-Malaysia. Today, the Bornean elephants are currently under threats, mainly due to the loss of continuous habitats and human-elephant conflict. Between Sabah and North Kalimantan, the elephants’ habitats are being converted and fragmented, and these elephants are continuously pushed into smaller areas and losing access to their traditional migration routes as well as food sources. This transboundary elephant landscape spanning Sabah and North Kalimantan is given a high priority status for conservation as the elephant habitats have been fragmented by various kinds of land use.
In the visit, the contingent from Sabah and WWF-Malaysia had an opportunity to have a meeting with the Head of Tulin Onsoi Sub District, Mr. Santipil Oslo and as well as with some local community representatives. To Mr. Oslo, the study made him very happy because Tulin Onsoi Sub District is one of the habitats for the elephants. “There is a need to manage and reduce the conflict that the elephants are creating with the local communities as the elephants are destroying their crops", stated Mr. Oslo.
The team then continued their trip to Tinampak Village to make the Sabah team understand the landscape on the North Kalimantan side and to view the damage done by elephants to the local community crops. On the next day, the whole group proceeded to have human-elephant conflict discussion with the local communities, who are also members of a human-elephant conflict task force – formed by WWF-Indonesia and Tulin Onsoi Sub District. The locals hope that there are more serious efforts to reduce the human-elephant conflicts.
On different occasion, the Sabah team had the opportunity to informally discuss with the government representatives from Nunukan District and North Kalimantan Province. In the informal meeting, a mutual perception was developed about the needs for further cooperation in conservation efforts of Bornean elephants. This visit became the window of opportunity to bridge the transboundary works between Indonesia and Malaysia. It is hoped that HoB - WWF would facilitate the continuation of this transboundary efforts.