Facing Extinction: Borneo Elephants Now Listed As Endangered With Only 1,000 Remaining In The Wild

The Bornean elephant has been listed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species due to threats posed by human activities. Around 1,000 Bornean elephants are remaining in the wild, with roughly 400 being breeding adults.

The Bornean elephant, also known as the Borneo pygmy elephant, is a subspecies of the Asian elephant native to the island of Borneo. It holds the distinction of being the smallest among the Asian elephant species.

The Asian elephant is one of three elephant species living today – the other two being the African savanna and forest elephants. With an estimated 40,000 individuals surviving in the wild across 13 countries in southern Asia, the Asian elephant has been classified as Endangered by the IUCN since 1986. 

Regrettably, the number of Bornean elephants has declined in the last 75 years, primarily as a result of widespread deforestation in Borneo that has devastated much of their natural habitat. In the past four decades alone, 60% of the forest where Bornean elephants reside has been destroyed.

As the human population has rapidly expanded in Sabah, elephants are entering human-dominated landscapes more frequently in search of food, where they may cause damage to crops and be subjected to retribution killings.

Further habitat loss from agriculture, especially palm oil, timber plantations, mining, and major infrastructure projects like the Pan Borneo Highway, threaten the future of Bornean elephants. Poaching for ivory, accidental ingestion of agrochemicals, and vehicle collisions are also major concerns.

Habitat loss, combined with conflict between people and wildlife, continues to pose a threat to both wildlife and the communities living alongside them – and this has been highlighted by the assessment of Borneo’s Asian elephants as Endangered,” said Mike Hoffmann, ZSL’s Head of Wildlife Recovery.

“As we work globally to protect and restore nature for all, it’s key that we work with local communities to understand the challenges they face and support them in developing community-led interventions that will help them coexist peacefully with wildlife,” continued Hoffmann.

The new update also indicates that invasive snakes are pushing endemic reptiles in Ibiza and the Canary Islands toward extinction, while cacti in Chile are endangered by illegal trade and climate change.

Currently, over 163,000 species of animals, fungi, and plants are included in the IUCN Red List, of which 45,321 are threatened by extinction.

You can help all animals and our planet by choosing compassion on your plate and in your glass. #GoVeg

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