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Smallest Elephant in the world - Bornean Pygmy Elephant



Pygmy Elephants are reported to be living in both Africa and Asia. The African Pygmy Elephant, formerly described as "Loxodonta pumilio", is currently considered to be a tiny morph of the African Forest Elephant.
  
The Borneo Elephant (Elephas maximus borneensis), a well-documented variety of elephant, is also called "Pygmy Elephant." This elephant, inhabiting tropical rainforest in north Borneo (east Sabah and extreme north Kalimantan), was long thought to be identical to the Asian Elephant and descended from a captive population. In 2003, DNA comparison revealed them to be probably a new subspecies. A 2010 study found that there are an estimated 2,040 elephants in Sabah.(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pygmy_elephant)




The term Pygmy Elephant should not be confused with "dwarf elephant" which is used for a number of extinct species of elephants that evolved their size due to island dwarfing.

The Bornean Pygmy Elephant is the smallest elephant in the world. The males rarely exceed 2.5m in height while a large female measures around 2m. Today they are only found in the North East of Borneo.



The Bornean Pygmy Elephant has other peculiar features when compared to other elephant species - they have long tails and straight tusks (only possessed by males). It is assumed that these features, including their small size, are adaptions to a dense forest environment. Perhaps the most peculiar feature of the Bornean Elephant is its tameness. The elephants show a high level of tolerance to humans being in close quarters - as can be seen when they are watched on the bays of the Lower Kinabatangan River by tourists in boats.



The Bornean Elephant has only recently been established as a distinct lineage, they were previously assumed to be artificial extensions of either the Asian Elephant or the Sumatra subspecies. As a result of this they are now recognised as very important from a conservation perspective. Current estimates suggest the total number of elephants in existence is 1,600. These are located in a small area in Borneo stretching from Sebuku Sembakung in north-east Kalimantan through to Maliau, Danum, Kinabatangan and Tabin on the eastern side of Sabah.
The largest single population of Bornean Elephants (150 - 200 elephants) can be found in the Lower Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary. This large herd size is a reflection of the shrinking options for the elephants to roam the land. The Lower Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary covers an area of 64,250 acres. However, plantations surround large parts of the Sanctuary and these are expanding. This creates increased conflict between the elephants and the people of the area.


The WWF (Asian Rhino and Elephant Strategy) and Sabah Wildlife Department have now radio-collared some Bornean Elephants so to track their movements. It is hoped this will help identify the critical forest areas for these elephants so they can be preserved.









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