Borneo pygmy elephants are smaller than other Asian elephants, with larger ears, rounder bellies and longer tails. They also are less aggressive than other elephants, leading to the theory held by many for years that they were tamer than other elephants because they were simply from a domesticated herd gone feral.
Once believed to be remnants of a domesticated herd given to the Sultan of Sulu in the 17th century, pygmy elephants were determined by WWF and Columbia University researchers in 2003 to be genetically different from other Asian elephants - and are likely to be declared a new subspecies.
This makes them a high conservation priority and WWF’s Asian Rhino and Elephant Action Strategy programme (AREAS) has chosen this region as a priority landscape to work in. Not only is it an important habitat for both elephants and Sumatran rhinos, but also orangutans, gibbons and many other species.