Friday, January 19, 2018

The key to Borneo pygmy elephants' survival

KOTA KINABALU: A BETTER understanding of the origins of the Borneo pygmy elephants in Sabah is vital for their survival.

Danau Girang Field Centre researcher Benoit Goossens said understanding the pygmy elephants’ origins and past demography would be useful for the development of a long-term conservation strategy.

He said the centre, together with the Sabah Wildlife Department and other partners, was drafting a 10-year action plan to protect the elephants.

He said there were fewer than 2,000 pygmy elephants living in an increasingly fragmented environment. With regular news of poisoned or dead Bornean elephants, the future is grim for the endangered species.

A recent study by a joint research team, published in Scientific Reports, revealed that the elephants may have arrived on Borneo island at a time of the last land bridge between the Sunda Islands in Southeast Asia.

The research team was led by Lounes Chikhi from Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciencia (IGC, Portugal) and CNRS, Université Paul Sabatier (France), Cardiff University (Wales), Sabah Wildlife Department and Goossens.

“Until recently, there are two opposing theories on the origin of Bornean elephants: they could have been introduced by humans, maybe 300 years ago, or they could have diverged from Asian elephants a long time ago.

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