Forest conversion push Borneo Pygmy Elephant in danger | WWF Indonesia

Forest conversion push Borneo Pygmy Elephant in danger

Posted on 18 April 2012   |  

JAKARTA – Research conducted by WWF-Indonesia’s from 2007 until 2011 has revealed the existence of Borneo elephant (Elephas maximus borneensis) with estimation of wild population of 20 – 80 elephants in northern part of East Kalimantan, bordering to Sabah, Malaysia. However, forest encroachments for oil palm plantations result in the decreasing habitat and home range of this endemic elephant.

The loss of Borneo elephant’s—also well known as “Pygmy elephant”— habitat and home range has pushed the species into conflict with human. WWF Indonesia’s data shows from 2005 – 2007 approximately 16,000 oil palm trees owned by community and palm oil plantations damaged by elephant. Furthermore, monitoring result from 2005 until 2009 shows 11 villages were prone to human – elephant conflict, with all of the villages are located in Nunukan District, East Kalimantan.

To reduce the risks of human – elephant conflict, particularly in Tulin Onsoi Sub-district, Nunukan District, East Kalimantan, WWF-Indonesia along with local forestry agencies and government has facilitated the establishment of Elephant Conflict Mitigation Task Force. Members of this task force are recruited from local communities to carry out elephant conflict mitigation activities.

“WWF Indonesia calls on government and private sectors to support the implementation of these task force members,” said Agus Suyitno, WWF Indonesia’s Human-Elephant Conflict Mitigation staff in Nunukan District. “Yet, the most important support is government and stake holders’ effort to preserve the remaining forest habitat for the elephant, so the conflict won’t escalate.” said Agus.

In addition to its cooperation with communities, government and relevant NGOs, WWF works with companies or concession owners operating in elephant’s habitat to develop and implement elephant conservation management plan. In this context, surveys had been conducted by WWF – Indonesia in 2010 and 2011 focusing on natural forest concession of PT. Adimitra Lestari, a concession surpassed by main rivers in Nunukan District— which serves as the last frontier of Borneo elephant habitat and home range in Indonesia. The survey aimed to monitor the presence of elephant in its main habitat, to gain updated information about habitat, population and elephant’s movement.

“Private sectors’ participation in the management of protected wildlife habitat, especially in its concession area is the key of success for Borneo elephant’s protection,” said Anwar Purwoto, Forest, Freshwater and Terrestrial Species Director of WWF Indonesia. “WWF Indonesia appreciates concessionaire such as PT. Adimitra Lestari for its commitment to actively involve in protecting endangered species in their concession, as this showcase real implementation of green economy in which business operates without harming endangered species population,” said Anwar.

WWF – Indonesia through Global Forest & Trade Network (GFTN) facilitates PT. Adimitra Lestari to improve its management of natural forest. Forest management carried out by the company and WWF focused on elephant population and its trajectory. Therefore, the operations would not be harmful to elephant’s habitat, home range and the trees which feed the elephant. Logged forest area can sustain Borneo elephants’ life, as long as these animals are provided with sufficient space to explore and search for foods. Logging operations in the forest may proceed harmoniously with elephant conservation when the activities are carried out in accordance to conservation ethics.

“We are passionate and committed to manage our natural forest concession responsibly. The Borneo elephant has inhabited the area long time before we even started our operation there, so their existence should be respected. Therefore we have adjusted our company management policy and practice based on this condition, to preserve the population,’ said Bambang Supriambodo, Managing Director of PT. Adimitra Lestari.

Borneo Elephant is a separate subspecies from Sumatran Elephant and other Asia mainland species – based on DNA test in 2003. Its relatively smaller size compare to other elephants established the name “Borneo Pygmy elephant”. IUCN classifies this species as endangered.

For further information, please contact:
  1. Desmarita Murni, Communications Manager, WWF-Indonesia,
  2. Agus Suyitno, Human-Elephant Conflict Officer, WWF Indonesia,
  3. Wiwin Effendy, Koordinator WWF-Indonesia di Kalimantan Timur,

Note to editor:
11 villages prone to Elephant conflict in Nunukan District are Semunad, Sekikilan, Kalun Sayan, Tembalang, Salang, Tinampak I, Tinampak II, Tau Baru, Naputi, Balatikon and Sanur. Four villages where most of the conflicts took place are Semunad, Sekikilan, Kalun Sayan and Tembalang.

Photos of Borneo elephants can be downloaded at

Factsheets of Borneo elephants can be downloaded at

About WWF-Indonesia
WWF-Indonesia is an independent part of WWF network and its affiliate, the world’s largest global conservation organizations that works in 100 countries. WWF-Indonesia’s ultimate goal is to stop and eventually reverse environmental degradation and to build a future where people live in harmony with nature. WWF-Indonesia's mission includes: Promoting strong conservation ethics, awareness and actions in Indonesia society; facilitating multi-stakeholders efforts to preserve biodiversity & ecological processes on eco-regional scale; advocating for policies, law and law enforcement that support conservation; and promoting conservation for the well-being of people, through sustainable use of natural resources. (

The Global & Forest Trade Network (GFTN)
GFTN is WWF’s initiative to eliminate illegal logging and encourage the improvement of forest management. By facilitating trade links between companies committed to achieving and supporting responsible forestry, GFTN uphold an independent forest certification, based on multi-party as an important tool in promoting forest management and trade in wood products is responsible throughout the chain of raw materials. Through a membership scheme, GFTN - Indonesia currently has 37 member companies (13 HPH / HTI and 24 industrial companies) (


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