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.
The Bornean rainforests are estimated to be around 140 million years old, more than twice the age of the Amazon rainforest. This eco-rich habitat is considered to be the most biologically diverse place on earth, with rainforests so dense that to this date scientists continue to discover new species every year.
These lush rainforests are the richest land habitats for biodiversity, harboring:
- A vibrant habitat to over 18,000 plant and tree species
- The world’s largest flowers and tallest trees
- 50 carnivorous pitcher plants
- 222 different mammal species
- 420 birds
- 100 amphibians
- Indigenous tribes who have inhabited Borneo’s forests for thousands of years
Unfortunately, the rainforests have been disappearing rapidly due to globalization and deforestation, leaving 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 an unparalleled rate.
- Large Corporations came in and started to purchase land and Borneo’s resources and 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 Palm Oil Industry is an Environmental Disaster for Borneo
Consumer demand is causing extensive Oil Palm Plantations to degrade the land, which is home for the pygmy elephants and other wildlife. This causes fragmentation, disrupting migration routes and herd accessibility from each other and vital food supplies.
- As of 2015, the world’s largest exporters of palm oil are Indonesia ($15.4 B) and Malaysia ($9.5B).
- 70% of the rainforest has already been destroyed from logging and Palm oil Plantations.
Bornean Elephants are the smallest elephants in the world found only on the Island of Borneo. At birth, the Bornean Elephant weighs approximately 50 kilos (110 pounds) and has larger ears, longer tails straighter tusks, shorter trunks and much smaller bodies than other elephants. They are more gentle than other elephant species; rather than charging their attackers, they simply turn their backs on them.
- Lifespan 55-70
- Water intake 75 – 125 liters per day
- Food intake 90 – 113 kilo (200-250 pounds) per day
Elephants are among the most intelligent mammals on Earth. Just like humans, they are social animals and must live in herds or they will experience depression and other psychological problems.
In the past these elephants were not sought after because of their small tusks. Now poachers have become more aggressive (taking skins and tusks) and the elephants have become more vulnerable due to habitat destruction.
Extinction is a serious probability for the Bornean “Pygmy” Elephant. The ever-increasing global demand for palm oil is the number one cause of habitat destruction on the Island of Borneo. Due to the expansion of oil palm plantations and the destruction of rainforests, many of the elephant’s migration routes have been disrupted and now the elephants often venture into plantations as well as populated areas searching for food.
- Deforestation and habitat loss
- Human-elephant conflicts, which often leads to their death
- Poaching due to global poaching crisis for ivory. In the past these elephants were not sought after because of their smaller tusks, however since 2017, poachers have become more aggressive taking skins and tusks and the elephants have become more vulnerable due to the destruction of their habitat.
We Must Act Now
- The human-elephant conflict has led the Bornean Elephant population to rapidly decrease in numbers, from ~2,100 in 2006 to less than 1,200 in 2020.
- There were 52 reported deaths between 2018 and 2019. These elephants died from poaching, poisoning, snare traps, illness and starvation due to human-elephant conflict.
- In just nine years, 30 orphaned baby elephants have been rescued. These babies are often abandoned when a herd is chased out of a human-populated area or plantation by fire, firecrackers or tractors. The mortality rate for these baby elephants is only about 50%.
Borneo Wildlife Preservation relies on the generosity of the international community to ensure the survival of the smallest elephants in the world who are at the biggest risk of extinction, with now less than 1,200 in existence.
Positive human intervention is needed now. With the help of our supporters, we are confident we can turn this into a better situation.