Iconic Borneo pygmy elephant poached for ivory. Another male found dead just one kilometer away
Danau Girang Field Centre announced that the remains of a pygmy elephant were found by DGFC and WRU teams, together with its satellite collar. A few meters away, the teams also found the remains of another pygmy elephant.
The Danau Girang Field Center team in Sabah announced that it found the remains of two elephants, near Segama River in Borneo. According to the wildlife teams, the animals were poached for their ivory. The tuskless skeletons of the animals were 1,500 meters apart. One of the pygmy elephants was identified as Saber, a rescue elephant known for his unusual tusks that grew downwards, resembling the canines of the extinct saber-tooth tiger.
Saber was rescued three months ago, according to the DGFC, from a plantation near Tawaw by the Wildlife Rescue Unite. Wildlife experts say that most probably Saber was killed a little over a month after its release in the forest.
The DGFC and WRU teams made an appeal to the public in order to find the poachers asking authorities to investigate and punish the culprits. Wildlife experts also warned that slowly, Borneo is losing its megafauna with indigenous rhino’s already gone and banteng and elephants being next.
The killing of the two animals for their ivory comes after China announced that by the end of 2017 it will ban ivory trade. Also, the US implemented new policies regarding ivory trade in order to protect elephant species worldwide.
According to the WWF, the pygmy elephants of Borneo are endangered with current population reaching approximately 1,500 individuals. Pygmy elephants were once believed to be the remnants of a domesticated herd given to the Sultan of Sulu in the 17th century. Since then, genetic tests proved that these elephants are different from their Asian relatives. DNA showed that just like in the case of other insular species, these elephants were affected by island dwarfism. They were isolated about 300,000 years ago from their cousins on mainland Asia and Sumatra and over time, they became smaller with relatively larger ears, longer tails and straighter tusks. Today, the pygmy elephants of Borneo are the smallest elephants in Asia.