Borneo Pygmy Elephant
Borneo pygmy elephant, Borneo elephant
Elephas maximus or sometimes Elephas maximus borneensis
According to the DNA evidence these elephants were isolated about 300,000 years ago from their cousins on mainland Asia and Sumatra. During that period, they became smaller with relatively larger ears, longer tails and straighter tusks.
The evolutionary history of Borneo's elephants justifies their recognition as a separate evolutionary significant unit (ESU).
The Asian elephant is one of the largest forest herbivores in the world. A single adult can eat up to 150 kgs of vegetation everyday, feeding mostly on species of palms, grasses and wild bananas. They also require minerals which they receive from salt licks or mineral concentrations in limestone outcrops.
The primary threat to these elephants is the loss of continuous forests. Mammals of their size require large feeding grounds and viable breeding populations with sizeable male- to female ratios. Shrinking forests have also brought the elephants into more frequent contact with people, increasing human elephant conflict in the region.
The large blocks of forests they require are fragmented by encroachment in forest areas and conversion of natural forests to commercial plantations. Human disturbances within forests such as logging, increased agriculture, building of palm oil mills with associated settlements and hunting are rapidly breaking up contact between sub populations, as well as minimizing the areas of forests available for each small group to live and feed on. These issues are common to all sub-species of Asian elephants.
Concentrated in Sabah, particularly the floodplain, tributaries and the upper catchment of the Kinabatangan River - but their route has been cut off by illegal loggers and the elephants have not been there in years. They occasionally range into East Kalimantan, Indonesia.