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WWF peeks into mysterious life of Borneo's pygmy elephants

ts off into smaller groups for days or weeks at a time. The home ranges of Nancy and Taliwas, who were collared in nearby forests, overlap, suggesting that the two elephants' groups may be related. Since elephants live in matriarchal societies, WWF collared only adult female elephants so that each elephant collared represents a whole herd's movements.„X The elephants' diet consists of at least 162 species of plants (in 49 families), including several dipterocarp tree species. This was determined during field tracking that supplements the satellite tracking. It was proved that forest quality influences the diversity and distribution of elephant food in the forest, with encroachment into palm oil plantations being higher along the degraded forest-plantation areas.

The Sabah Wildlife Department described the study as very important and the results could be used to assist the department in preparing Sabah's elephant conservation plan.

The pygmy elephants were determined by WWF in 2003 to be a likely new subspecies of Asian elephant but very little is known about them, including how many there are. Pygmy elephants are smaller, chubbier and more gentle-natured than other Asian elephants. They are found only on the northeast tip of Borneo, mainly in the Malaysian state of Sabah.

"We are learning about more than just elephants with this project," said Raymond Alfred, project manager of the elephant tracking project in Sabah. "Elephants are a 'keystone species' and habitat engineers whose impact shapes the forest in important ways for the many other species with whom they share their habitat."


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Source:World Wildlife Fund


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