Discover The Pygmy Elephant of Borneo

Adult Pygmy ElephantThe Bornean elephant, or pygmy elephant, can be found in Borneo and Sumatra. They are the smallest Asian elephant subspecies, standing just eight feet tall when fully grown. Although they are substantially smaller than other elephants, Bornean elephants are the largest mammals on the islands where they live.

In comparison to mainland Asia elephants, Bornean elephants have rounder faces, straighter tusks, and larger ears. Their tails are also rather long. Some elephants’ tails reach the ground. Bornean elephants are calm and non-aggressive, which suggests that they may have descended from domesticated elephants. The current population of Bornean elephants probably is descended from some elephants given as a gift to the Sultan of Sulu in the 14th century. Genetic evidence shows that they diverged from the main Asian elephant line around 300,000 years ago.


Adult Pygmy ElephantLike other elephants, Bornean elephants live in matriarchal groups, including mothers, daughters, sisters, and aunts. They usually only form groups of about eight individuals. More can be seen at once, though, around rivers and abundant food sources (fruit, grass, and palms). While some adult males may still live in the matriarchal herds, they usually form their own bachelor herds.

They are migratory animals. A herd of Bornean elephants may travel as widely as 25 to 30 miles in one day. They are also excellent swimmers and frequently cross rivers in their migrations.

The gestation period for a Bornean elephant is nearly two years. Each pregnancy results in only one calf, luckily for the mother. The calf is dependent on its mother and other female relatives for the first three to four years of its life. Although they can care for themselves at this point, they aren’t fully grown until about 10 years of age. The lifespan for a Bornean elephant is 55-70 years.


Mother and Baby Pygmy ElephantBornean elephants are an endangered species most threatened by habitat loss. Human civilization fragments their natural migration paths and destroys the elephants’ food sources. Furthermore, many Bornean elephants are injured in traps set for other animals. Fortunately, these elephants are a protected species. Poachers face heavy fines and imprisonment.

If you would like to read about other species of elephants, we’ve got you covered. You can read about African elephants here or about Indian elephants here!


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