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Also known as the Borneo pygmy elephant, the Borneo elephant (Elephas maximus borneensis) is a subspecies of the Asian elephant and is native to northeastern Borneo, Indonesia, and Malaysia. Smallest among the Asian elephant subspecies, the Borneo elephant is currently listed as endangered on the IUCN Red List and has been since 1986.
See the fact file below for more information on the Borneo elephant or alternatively, you can download our 20-page Borneo Elephant worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
- It is still debatable whether the Borneo elephant is indigenous or is the descendant of the caged elephants presented to the Sultan of Sulu in 1750 by the East India Company. They were later set free in northern Borneo.
- In the 19th century, a zoological expedition suggested that wild elephants were found in a restricted area of northeastern Borneo. The status and taxonomic identity of these elephants has been controversial since then.
- In 1940, English zoologist Frederick Nutter Chasen believed that Borneo elephants descended from an introduced stock, and he categorized them in the subspecies Elephas maximus indicus.
- Three years later, British zoologist Reginald Innes Pocock argued this after studying specimens in the British Museum of Natural History. He classified all Sundaic elephants in the subspecies Elephas maximus sumatrensis.
- In 1950, Sri Lankan paleontologist Paules Edward Pieris Deraniyagala detailed a subspecies Elephas maximus borneensis, as he illustrated in the National Geographic Magazine.
- In 2003, another discussion was revisited, suggesting that the introduced Sulu elephants and the northeastern Borneo subspecies might have been the descendants of the now-extinct Javan elephant, which has a scientific name of Elephas maximus sondaicus. This assumption is based on the lack of archaeological proof of long-term elephant habitation in Borneo, the folkloric evidence, and that elephants have not settled on the entire island of Borneo.
- That same year, mitochondrial DNA studies and microsatellite data showed that the living population came from Sundaic stock, but it experienced independent local evolution 300,000 years ago during a theorized Pleistocene settlement. It possibly got separated from other Asian elephant subspecies when land bridges that connected Borneo with other Sunda Islands and the Asian mainland submerged after the Last Glacial Maximum 18,000 years ago.
- Generally, Asian elephants are smaller in size compared to African elephants. Moreover, the highest body point of these species is on their head. The end of their trunk has a single finger-like feature, and their back is convex or level.
- As the smallest Asian elephant subspecies, the Borneo elephant is noticeably smaller than its mainland cousins. It has a long tail that is lengthy enough to reach the ground, large ears, a round belly, and straighter tusks.
- Compared to other subspecies, Borneo elephants stand between 8.2 and 9.8 feet tall.
BEHAVIOR AND REPRODUCTION
- Borneo elephants observe rigid migration routes that are identified by the monsoon season. The eldest elephant in a herd is in charge of recalling the migration path, and their journey usually occurs between the wet and dry seasons.
- They are herbivores, so they feed on plants and plant matter in order to survive. Borneo elephants have a diverse vegetation diet, including grasses, leaves, shoots, barks, fruits, nuts, and seeds.
- Sometimes, they use their long trunk to aid them in gathering food.
- Since they are giant mammals, Borneo elephants are preyed upon by very few predators. Aside from human hunters, tigers are their common predator, although these big cats tend to hunt young Borneo elephants due to their size and vulnerability.
- Females usually breed by the time they reach 10 years old.
- They give birth to one calf after gestating for 22 months. Newborns typically weigh about 100 kg and are protected by their mother and other female Borneo elephants in the herd.
- Babies stay with their mother for five years, and males often leave the herd while female calves stay.
DISTRIBUTION AND HABITAT
- The Borneo elephant is native to the northern and northeastern regions of Borneo. In the 1980s, there were two identified populations in Sabah, mostly in the Tabin Wildlife Reserve and in the logged dipterocarp forest on steep terrain. In Kalimantan, the Borneo elephant is confined to a small contiguous portion of the upper Sembakung River in the east.
- The range of wild elephants found in Sabah and Kalimantan might have slightly grown in number over the past 100 years, despite access to appropriate habitats elsewhere in Borneo.
- Borneo’s soil composition is young, leached, and infertile, and there is an assumption that the spread of wild elephants on the island may be restricted by the formation of natural mineral sources.
- The common threats experienced by the Borneo elephants today are habitat loss, degradation, and fragmentation, which are caused by the growth in human population. This leads to increased elephant-and-man conflicts.
- Human development activities destroy the Borneo elephants’ migration routes, reduce their food sources, and destroy their home.
- Habitat loss leads the majority of the Borneo elephants to spend most of their time in plantations or wandering through them to arrive at fragmented forest patches.
- Currently, the Borneo elephant is listed as an endangered species by the IUCN Red List.
- Its genetic distinction lets them have the highest priority for Asian elephant conservation.
Borneo Elephant Worksheets
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about the Borneo elephant across 20 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use Borneo Elephant worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about the Borneo elephant (Elephas maximus borneensis) which is a subspecies of the Asian elephant and is native to northeastern Borneo, Indonesia, and Malaysia. Smallest among the Asian elephant subspecies, the Borneo elephant is currently listed as endangered on the IUCN Red List and has been since 1986.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- Borneo Elephant Facts
- Small Giants
- Borneo Elephant Anatomy
- Things You Need To Know
- More About These Elephants
- An Elephant’s Life
- Two Asian Elephants
- Elephant Recap
- Conservation Status
- One and Only
- Elephant Mask
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Link will appear as Borneo Elephant Facts & Worksheets: https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, September 1, 2020
Use With Any Curriculum
These worksheets have been specifically designed for use with any international curriculum. You can use these worksheets as-is, or edit them using Google Slides to make them more specific to your own student ability levels and curriculum standards.