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.
New mathematical model can help save endangered species
14.01.2019 | University of Southern Denmark
Foxes in the city: citizen science helps researchers to study urban wildlife
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Cellulose obtained from wood has amazing material properties. Empa researchers are now equipping the biodegradable material with additional functionalities to produce implants for cartilage diseases using 3D printing.
It all starts with an ear. Empa researcher Michael Hausmann removes the object shaped like a human ear from the 3D printer and explains:
The phenomenon of so-called superlubricity is known, but so far the explanation at the atomic level has been missing: for example, how does extremely low friction occur in bearings? Researchers from the Fraunhofer Institutes IWM and IWS jointly deciphered a universal mechanism of superlubricity for certain diamond-like carbon layers in combination with organic lubricants. Based on this knowledge, it is now possible to formulate design rules for supra lubricating layer-lubricant combinations. The results are presented in an article in Nature Communications, volume 10.
One of the most important prerequisites for sustainable and environmentally friendly mobility is minimizing friction. Research and industry have been dedicated...
Just in time for Christmas, a Mars-analogue mission in Morocco, coordinated by the Robotics Innovation Center of the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI) as part of the SRC project FACILITATORS, has been successfully completed. SRC, the Strategic Research Cluster on Space Robotics Technologies, is a program of the European Union to support research and development in space technologies. From mid-November to mid-December 2018, a team of more than 30 scientists from 11 countries tested technologies for future exploration of Mars and Moon in the desert of the Maghreb state.
Close to the border with Algeria, the Erfoud region in Morocco – known to tourists for its impressive sand dunes – offered ideal conditions for the four-week...
Research opens doors in photonic quantum information processing, optical signal processing and microwave photonics
Researchers from the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) have developed a new integrated photonics platform that can...
A team of experimentalists at the U.S. Department of Energy's Ames Laboratory and theoreticians at University of Alabama Birmingham discovered a remarkably long-lived new state of matter in an iron pnictide superconductor, which reveals a laser-induced formation of collective behaviors that compete with superconductivity.
"Superconductivity is a strange state of matter, in which the pairing of electrons makes them move faster," said Jigang Wang, Ames Laboratory physicist and...
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