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Borneo elephants

29th June, 2024 Environment

Borneo elephants

Source: Down to Earth

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  • Borneo elephants, now classified as 'Endangered' on the IUCN Red List, face severe threats from habitat loss and human conflict. Conservation efforts focus on protecting habitats, reducing conflicts, and maintaining genetic diversity through wildlife corridors.


Key Points

  • IUCN Red List Classification: Borneo elephants are classified as 'Endangered'.
  • Habitat Loss: Over 60% of their habitat lost in the last four decades due to logging and oil palm plantations.
  • Human-Wildlife Conflict: Elephants raid crops, leading to conflicts and sometimes poaching.
  • Location: Found in Sabah (Malaysian Borneo) and Kalimantan (Indonesian Borneo).
  • Habitat Fragmentation: Linear infrastructure like roads impedes movement between core habitats.
  • Genetic Studies: Elephants are genetically distinct from other populations, making them a separate subspecies (Elephas maximus borneensis).
  • Satellite Tracking: Used to estimate population and monitor movement.
  • Conservation Plans: Both Malaysian and Indonesian governments have action plans.
  • Wildlife Corridors: Need for corridors through oil palm plantations to connect forest patches and preserve genetic diversity.
  • Local Community Support: Essential to minimize conflict and protect habitats.
  • Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework: Local assessments contribute to global conservation commitments.

Borneo Elephants vs. Asian Elephants:

  • Size:
    • Borneo Elephants: Smaller, males grow to about 2.5 meters in height.
    • Asian Elephants: Larger, males can reach up to 3 meters in height.
  • Genetic Distinctiveness:
    • Borneo Elephants: Genetically distinct, classified as a separate subspecies, Elephas maximus borneensis.
    • Asian Elephants: More genetically homogenous, Elephas maximus, found across mainland Asia.
  • Geographical Distribution:
    • Borneo Elephants: Confined to the island of Borneo, specifically in Sabah (Malaysia) and Kalimantan (Indonesia).
    • Asian Elephants: Distributed across 13 countries in southern Asia, including India, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Myanmar.
  • Habitat:
    • Borneo Elephants: Forest habitats in Borneo, heavily impacted by deforestation and palm oil plantations.
    • Asian Elephants: Diverse habitats including grasslands, forests, and scrublands across the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia.
  • Conservation Status:
    • Borneo Elephants: Classified as 'Endangered' on the IUCN Red List.
    • Asian Elephants: Also classified as 'Endangered' but with a larger overall population estimated at around 40,000 individuals.
  • Physical Characteristics:
    • Borneo Elephants: Smaller size, wider face, and distinct skull shape.
    • Asian Elephants: Larger size, more varied in physical appearance due to a wider range of environments.


Down to Earth


Q. Consider the following statements regarding Borneo Elephants:

1.Borneo elephants have been classified as 'Endangered' on the IUCN Red List.

2.Borneo elephants are genetically identical to mainland Asian elephants.

Which of the above statement's is/are correct?

(a) 1 only

(b) 2 only

(c) Both 1 and 2

(d) None

Answer: (a)