Borneo is the 3rd largest Island in the world Borneo is the 3rd largest Island in the world and is located in South East Asia situated between Thailand and the Philippines. It is divided into 3 countries, Malaysia, Brunei and Indonesia. Its rainforest of Sabah is the smallest of all rainforests but is considered to be the most biologically diverse place on earth. The very lush rainforests provide a vibrant habitat to over 18,000 plant species, including the worlds largest flowers and tallest trees and 50 carnivorous pitcher plants, 222 different mammal species, 420 birds, 100 amphibians. Indigenous tribes have lived in Borneo’s forests for thousands of years and just 100 years ago headhunters ruled a remote location of the island. The rainforests are so dense that to this date scientists continue to discover new species every year.
Unfortunately the rainforests have been disappearing rapidly due to outside corporations and the increasing need for consumer demand. This has left many animals homeless, injured, starving and vulnerable to opportunistic hunters.
- Commercial logging began in 1973
- In the 80’s and 90’s the rainforests were leveled at a rate unparalleled in human history.
- Large Corporations came in and started to purchase land and Borneo’s resources.
- These forests, with the animals included, were burned, logged and cleared, and then replaced with agricultural land, or palm plantations, WHICH STILL CONTINUES TODAY.
THE BIGGEST PROBLEM – PALM OIL:
Consumer demand is causing extensive Oil Palm Plantations to degrade the land, which is home for pygmy elephants and other wildlife. This causes fragmentation, disrupting migration routes and accessibility from each other and vital food supplies.
- The Palm Oil Industry is an Environmental Disaster for Borneo
BIGGEST EXPORTERS of PALM OIL ARE INDONESIA $15.4B AND MALAYSIA $9.5B(as of 2015).
70% of the rainforest has already been destroyed from logging and Palm oil Plantations.
BWP relies on generosity of the international community to help us with our mission for the survival of the smallest elephants in the world at the biggest risk of extinction (less than 1200).
Bornean Elephant Facts
The Bornean elephants have adapted to live in the Rain Forests of Sabah, Borneo, Malaysia. They are distinct in their appearance as they are the smallest of all elephant species with larger ears, longer tails and straighter tusks.
Bornean elephants, often referred to as “Pygmy Elephants” due to their small size, are sociable animals that live in matriarchal hierarchy. They form groups on average of up to 10 individuals, which are dominated by females. However, on riverbanks and other open feeding areas, these animals can be seen in larger groups and often groups will join together. These groups are family units, typically consisting of mothers, daughters, sisters and immature males (occasionally – an adult male). Mature males tend to live solitarily or form temporary bull herds. Family units occasionally gather together. This association is highly beneficial for them, helping keep genetic diversity, which, in turn, is vital for their further evolution and survival. When these family units are cut off from each other due to forest fragmentation caused by de-forestation these elephants will lose genetic diversity. These active elephants are known to wander throughout their habitat, travelling up to 25 – 30 miles a day. Borneo elephants are migratory animals. Seasonal migration helps the elephants keep themselves in good physical shape. In addition, when travelling, Borneo elephants often cross rivers and are proven to be excellent swimmers.
Bornean elephants are a more gentle-natured animal than other Asian elephants. In the past, these elephants were considered descendants of a domesticated elephant herd, which was given to the Sultan of Sulu in the 17th century.
According to a study conducted by WWF, Bornean elephants are genetically different from other Asian elephants. This statement is supported by DNA evidence, which also discovered that the species was isolated from their relatives on mainland Asia and Sumatra around 300,000 years ago. As a result, Bornean elephants became smaller, developing larger ears, longer tails and straighter tusks in course of time in order to adapt in the rainforests of Borneo.
There are approximately 1200 Bornean elephants left living in the wild of Sabah. These elephant numbers have decreased substantially in the last decade. The biggest threat to the elephant population is increased deforestation with expansion of crops, primarily oil palm plantations. Plantaions bring more people and encroachment of land from this growing population causes conflict. When elephants move into a village or plantation for food man and elephant are often in conflict.
Elephas maximus borneensis
- Smallest elephant in the world being 1/5 smaller than the Asian elephant
- Population size: less than 1200
- Born at approx 75 kilo
- Males: 8 feet (approx)
- Females 6 feet (approx)
- Lifespan 55 – 70 years
- Water intake 60 – 70 liters per day
- Food intake 200 – 250 pounds (90 – 113 kilo) per day
- THEY ARE intelligent, compassionate and the gentlest out of all elephant sub-species.
- Bornean elephants have longer tails and shorter trunks and much smaller bodies than other elephants.
- They have round faces and tend to look like baby elephants even into adult life
- Walt Disney actually created the character “Dumbo” with the features of a from a Bornean “Pygmy” Elephant in mind (cute, charming with a baby face)
- IN ORDER TO SURVIVE these large animals are raiding Oil Palm Plantations and personal gardens and farms for food, which is the reason Human-Elephant conflict occurs. This conflict is the cause of many elephants being injured displaced and killed from illegal snares, gunshots, poison, traps and car injuries.
- The local government provides some compensation for damaged property but advises farmers to protect their land themselves, which is the root of many issues.
- In 2013 Plantation Workers with Cyanide poisoned an entire herd of 14 or more Elephants. In the first 6 months of 2018 alone 24 elephants have been killed and found in various locations of Sabah. We believe the causes of death have been due to human elephant. Causes of death have been poison, gunshot and snare traps.
- Mothers often abandon their babies in haste to escape hunters or humans, as the Plantation workers often become violent, which is the reason for so many orphaned baby pygmy elephants.
THE SMALLEST ELEPHANTS IN THE WORLD FACING THE BIGGEST RISK OF EXTINCTION – THE TIME IS NOW FOR POSITIVE HUMAN INTERVENTION BEFORE WE LOSE THESE ANIMALS FOREVER. With a declining population on 1200 this is likely to happen within the next 10 years.