- A-Z Animals
The Borneo elephant, short for the Borneo pygmy elephant, is a sub-species of the Asian elephant. Their origin has been highly debated. It was believed that they are descendants of the now-extinct Javan elephant brought to Borneo as gifts and then released into the wild. But studies have shown that they might have become isolated from their ancestor and evolved into their species.
|E. m. borneensis|
|E. m. borneensis|
Size: Length: Male: 5 ft 6 in-8 ft 6 in (1.7-2.6 m) Female: 4 ft 11 in-7 ft 2 in (1.5-2.2 m)
Weight: 4,000 lb (1,800 kg)
Body and Coloration: One of the distinct physical features distinguishing the Borneo from most other Asian elephants is its large, plump appearance. They have big ears that actually look larger than what they are because of their small, round face. These elephants even have shorter trunks and a relatively long tail touching the ground in certain individuals. Some males display tusks, which are shorter and straighter than those of Indian elephants, but the females have protruded teeth called tushes.
Borneo elephants range from black to brown to gray in color.
These elephants reside in the north and northeastern parts of Borneo. This includes the Lower Kinabatangan floodplain in the state of Sabah, Malaysian Borneo, and, sometimes, the Indonesian state of East Kalimantan.
Their preferred habitats included lowland forests which get flooded every rainy season.
Herbivorous in nature, the Borneo elephant feeds primarily on grasses, roots, leaves, fruits like bananas, and palm trees.
The Borneo elephant is long-lived, with an average of 60-75 years.
Due to their large size, these elephants have no natural predators.
Very little has been discovered about the mating habits of these elephants, but it is assumed that, like other elephants the females become receptive for only a short period of time. A single elephant can give birth to only seven calves throughout their lifetime.
After a gestation period of around 19 – 22 months, a single baby elephant, called a calf, is born. However, the pregnancy may get extended if unfavorable conditions like drought persist. The young get their nutrition from their mother’s milk for 3 – 4 years until they become sexually mature at 10 years of age. Before they reach sexual maturity, the males will live with their mother.
As per the IUCN, the Borneo elephant is “Endangered” or “EN” and has been classified as such since 1986. Currently, there are around 1500 of them left in the world. The main reason behind their decline can be attributed to fragmentation and loss of habitat. Under the Wildlife Conservation Enactment Schedule II in Malaysia, anyone found guilty of hunting the Borneo elephant risks five years imprisonment or a $RM 50,000 fine or both.
Several ways exist to save this elephant, including raising awareness, promoting eco-tourism, and providing natural corridors.