The Bornean elephant occurs in the lowlands of the northeastern part of the island. It differs from the continental Asian elephant: it is smaller, has larger ears, straight tusks and a longer tail. It can breed at an earlier age and the inter-birth interval is shorter. Its origin in Borneo is still a matter of debate: because of its genetic uniqueness and discrepancies with all the other populations, some argue it colonized the island during the Pleistocene and then evolved independently, while others think that it could be the descendant of captive individuals imported to the island as royal gifts in the 15th century.
Today its population is estimated at about 2,000 individuals but it is highly threatened by habitat destruction and fragmentation, by its low genetic diversity and by its proximity with humans that increase conflicts. Set in the heart of Kinabatangan for more than 20 years, Hutan works to conserve wildlife in the area including the elephants which are one of the five major elephant populations for Borneo. Several individuals are fitted with satellite collars in order to monitor their movement, to understand how they use the habitat and to collect data about their social behavior.
Hutan also acquires land to create forest corridors and restore former elephant migration routes. It employs a team of dedicated rangers in charge of fighting illegal logging and poaching, but also to minimize conflicts with local communities (whose crops may be destroyed by elephant herds) through the installation of electric fences or drains. Finally, Hutan organize awareness activities and education programs in schools and works on building local capacities for conservation by training teams to different techniques such as water quality analysis, camera trapping, data collection…
Hutan develops conservation strategies for other species in the Kinabatangan region: orangutans, hornbills, swallows, freshwater turtles, amphibians, butterflies…
The Zoo de La Palmyre has contributed financially to Hutan since 2002.
Photo credit: ©HUTAN.