Borneo pygmy elephants depend for their survival on forests situated on flat, low lands and in river valleys, the study found. Unfortunately, it is also the type of terrain preferred for commercial plantations. Over the past four decades, 40 percent of the forest cover of the Malaysian State of Sabah, on the northeast of the Island of Borneo – where most of pygmy elephants are – has been lost to logging, conversion for plantations and human settlement.
“The areas that these elephants need to survive are the same forests where the most intensive logging in Sabah has taken place, because flat lands and valleys incur the lowest costs when extracting timber,” said Raymond Alfred, Head of WWF-Malaysia’s Borneo Species Programme.
“However, the Malaysian government’s commitment to retain extensive forest habitat throughout central Sabah, under the “Heart of Borneo” agreement, should ensure that the majority of the herds have a home in the long term,” Alfred added.
This study, the largest using satellite collars ever attempted on Asian elephants, suggests that pygmy elephants prefer lowland forests because there is more food of better quality on fertile lowland soils.
But the study also shows that elephants’ movements are noticeably affected by human activities and forest disturbance. Data gathered so far reveals there are probably not more than 1,000 pygmy elephants left in Sabah – less than the 1,600 or so estimated previously.
And, one important area for the elephants, the Lower Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary, may be too small and too fragmented to support a viable population for the long term, according to the report.
Five pygmy elephants were darted and outfitted with collars two years ago by the Sabah Wildlife Department with WWF assistance, after tracking the elephants on foot through the dense jungle was found too difficult over long periods. The collars sent GPS locations to a WWF computer via satellite as often as once a day. This was the first long-term study done of Borneo pygmy elephants.
“It’s amazing that we still know so little about one of the biggest land mammals on Earth,” said Matthew Lewis, program officer for WWF’s Species Conservation Program. “The only reason we now have a good understanding of where these elephants travel from day to day is because satellite collar technology has given us access to the most inaccessible forests on Borneo.”
The information provided by the research might also help predict locations where elephants and farms may come into future conflict.
While pygmy elephants can live in logged and secondary forests, it is crucial that their remaining habitat is managed sustainably and not converted into plantations, WWF says. Logging in elephant habitat should only take place if there is a long-term forest management plan in place, and oil palm plantations should be established on degraded, non-forested land devoid of elephants and orangutans, according to the conservation organization.
Safeguarding sustainability through forest certification mapping
27.06.2017 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)
Dune ecosystem modelling
26.06.2017 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau
An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.
Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...
Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.
Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...
Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.
As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...
Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.
With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...
Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine
Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...
19.06.2017 | Event News
13.06.2017 | Event News
13.06.2017 | Event News
27.06.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering
27.06.2017 | Information Technology
27.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy