Borneo Pygmy Elephant

Indonesia, Malaysia

Scientific classification

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Mammalia
  • Order: Proboscidea
  • Family: Elephantidae
  • Genus: Elephas
  • Species: E. maximus
  • Subspecies: E. m. borneensis

Inhabiting the rain-forested, mountainous island of Borneo, lives a remarkably tame subspecies of elephant, the Borneo Pygmy Elephant. These gentle giants are, in fact, similar in size to the Asian elephants on the continental mainland, and sadly today they share the same endangered status.

Because of their isolation, they have grown to be genetically distinct, making their conservation a high priority. Confined to the island, it is not known whether they are a native species or were introduced by humans, but genetic evidence supports the former. The Borneo Pygmy Elephant is well-known for its cute and loveable appearance, as adults they grow up to 9.8 feet in height, and have tails that can grow so long in length, they trail across the floor.

As peaceful animals, human interference with Borneo’s environment has severely distressed the Borneo Pygmy Elephant and has seen their population drastically decline. Human expansion, and the destruction, fragmentation and degradation of the Borneo Pygmy Elephant habitats have been the biggest threats to their survival. In addition, the animals also often clash with human populations as herds feast on and crush crops, as they are driven further into agricultural land. Today, there are only approximately 1,500 Borneo Pygmy Elephants remaining.

Borneo is host to a number of endangered species – including the Borneo orangutan – which makes the island a huge priority for conservation. Continued conflict and deforestation are likely to push the Borneo Pygmy Elephant to the point of extinction unless their habitats can be protected. The fate ahead of the Borneo Pygmy Elephant lies in sustainable forest management, with the right efforts, we can continue to admire and create a secure future for the beautiful creature.

Estimated Borneo Pgymy Elephant population figures between 2010 and 2016

The above graph illustrates the estimated changes of the Borneo Pgymy Elephant wild population between the years of 2010 and 2016. As seen from the graph above, today there are estimated to be no more than 1,500 Borneo Pgymy Elephants remaining in the wild. The Borneo Pgymy Elephant population has been steadily decreasing over time due to continuous threats such as habitat loss and human-animal conflict.

In 2010 the estimated Borneo Pgymy Elephant population was thought to be around 1,850 individuals, this indicates a loss of 360 individuals over a period of 16 years. Though this figure may not seem high, the continuous threat of habitat loss and hunting is causing excessive distress to the species. Such distress causes the individuals to breed less often, thus resulting in a declining population rather than the contrary.

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