Sample Environmental Studies and Forestry Essay Paper on The Borneo Pygmy Elephant Management and Recovery Plan

The Borneo Pygmy Elephant Management and Recovery Plan

Introduction

The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) first identified the Borneo pygmy elephant was as an endangered species in 1986. Over the years, their population in the wild has reduced to 1500 as identified by Good (2014). If this trend continues, there would be no Borneo pygmy elephants left in the wild. Increased human encroachment on the elephants’ habitat, poaching, and other human activities have immensely contributed to the problem facing these elephants..  According to Loong (2015), of all the elephant species that are surviving the Borneo pygmy elephant is the most at a risk of extinction because of three reasons. Firstly, information about the animal is limited. Since 1986, information that is relevant in facilitating the recovery process of the Borneo pygmy elephant has been scarce. Secondly, the population size of the animal is extremely low.  As aforementioned by Good (2014) the numbers of the Borneo pygmy elephants are small; consequently, it is hard to come up with a well detailed study about the animal. Finally, the recovery strategies employed by the authorities remain unsuccessful in these animals’ recovery process. Over the last decade, a variety of measures have been employed to aid in the recovery process of the Borneo pygmy elephant efforts in saving the gentle giants from extinction; nonetheless, there is a need for more action in the long term. This paper discusses the issues that render the Borneo pygmy elephant as an endangered species and the reasons or risks that make the Borneo pygmy elephant a candidate of extinction as well as the management and recovery process required to help the Borneo pygmy elephant flourish.          

Discussion

Part One

Spcies status. Today there are approximately 1,500 pygmy elephants (Elephas Maximus Borneensis) in the wild. Since 1986, this species has been considered an endangered species, based on the fact that its population had halved by the end of three generations (Rautner, Hardiono, & Alfred, 2015). The Borneo elephants are located to the northern Borneo. Over the years, the Sabah location that harbors the Tabin Wildlife Reserve and adjacent Dipterocarp Forest host the largest population of Borneo pygmy elephants (Phillipps & Phillipps, 2016). On the other, Kalimantan host a smaller population.  

Figure 1:Past and present distribution of Bomean Elephants in Sabah

Sources; http://www.worldlandtrust.org/images/animals/borneo-elephant-map.jpg      In reference to their food patterns, the Elephas Maximus Borneensis are herbivorous depending on plants as their main food. Despite their name, Borneo pygmy elephants grow up to 2.5 meters and are similar in size as other Asian elephant species. However, their facial features are different, for instance they have larger ears and straight tusks than other Asian elephant species. According to Phillipps and Phillipps (2016), an animal’s size determines the amount of food it consumes in a day. Nonetheless, on average, a Borneo elephant consumes about 150 kg of plants every day.  The lush vegetation at Sabah and Kalimantan location stands a reason the gentle giants are predominantly found in this regions. Varieties of scientific researchers have been using satellite tags to map the animal’s behavior in its natural habitats.  For instance, a recent research by Alfred et al., (2012) indicate that Borneo elephants’ social constructs restrict them to specific herds  unlike their African cousins. Additionally, they suffer from depression and other psychological issues that result from their continuous decreasing numbers. From Figure 1, it is evident that the Borneo elephant habitats are shrinking. Sabah and Kalimantan state regions have been encroached by human beings leading to the destruction of the elephants’ habitat, hence their decline in numbers.

Threats facing the Borneo elephant species. For three decades, the Borneo elephant has remained endangered and a number of measures have been placed to avoid the animal’s extinction. However, most of these policies have failed due to the fact that human’s in dynamic ways are the main threats to the beats. The extinctions of some elephant species such as the Wooly Mammoth (Mammuthus Primigenius) and Mastodon (Mammutid proboscideans) were a result of natural forces.  The Borneo Pygmy Elephant’s impending extinction however, is not being engineered by natural processes but a variety of factors such as poaching, encroachment and disease infestation.  The biggest threat facing the Borneo elephant species is interference by human beings. According to Loong (2015), human beings affect the population of the Borneo elephant in two ways. Foremost, human beings interfere with the natural habitat of this species of elephants. Agricultural practices have seen human being encroach into both the Sabah and Kalimantan locations reducing the space that the Borneo elephant, therefore, preventing them from thriving. A recent study that tracked the endangered species conducted by Goossens, et al., (2016) indicated that the remaining herds are under threat from forest fragmentation as well as loss of habitat.  Borneo pygmy elephants thrive on flat, low lands and river valleys. Similar characteristics are favourable to agricultural practice, hence human beings’ attraction to the areas..  Alfred et al, (2015) indicate that over the last half a century, approximately 40% of the forest located in  Sabah on the northeastern part of Borneo has been cut down to create room for human settlement and palm oil trees plantation. It should be noted that Sabah hosts the largest number of Borneo pygmy elephants on the Island.  Elephants are known to cover a large areas during migration or seasonal changes in particular during mating; in the instance this movements are affected it is expected that the breeding patterns will also be affected. Additionally, the elephant’s natural urge to move through its habitat has caused a clash between the beats and humans. Hance (2017) indicates that data collected during the study indicated that due to increased killings by farmers  are approximately 1,000 pygmy elephants remaining in the state of Sabah, and not 1,600 as earlier estimated by Alfred (2012). The study also attributed the reducing number of these elephants to their decreased habitat.  The invasion of these elephants’ habitat by human beings resulted in the introduction of foreign diseases. With the arrival of human beings came other animals and the use of chemical compounds on farmlands, which introduced new diseases in the area. Therefore, the interaction between the elephants and farm animals has seen the rise of illnesses such as Pasteurellamultocida in the area. Additionally, chemical compounds used for weed control have seen food supply reduce. The chemicals used in killing weeds is extensively used and sprayed in areas that go beyond the farmlands; consequently, the supply of the lush vegetation is reduced and this makes it hard for large herds of the pygmy elephant’s population to exist within the already limited habitats.

            The Borneo elephant have tusks that have caused poachers to hunt them towards extinction. According to Alfred, et al, (2011), initially, farmers killed the Borneo elephant due to their destruction of their farmlands. However, with time they began killing them for their tusks as well as other body parts that were shipped to nearby China to be used as medicine ingredients. As humans keep reducing the Borneo elephant habitats the animals have been forced to take refuge in areas where their predators have a high advantage over them. Because Sabah is adjacent the dipterocarp forest the Borneo elephants have been forced into thes area, which is habited by various predators such as tigers and jaguars that hunt them, thus reducing their numbers.

while the mentioned threats against these elephants have existed for a while, their intensity has been augmenting over the years. Currentily, is more demand for land, therefore,  the altercation between man and beast has become more frequent than before,  which has increased the pace of the extinction of the species. since the main cause of the problem facing the elephants in question is human activities, there is a need for  individuals to create a management plan to ensure that the species does not perish.   

Part 2

Endangered species management and recovery plan. since destruction of thids species is a result of forces that are not natural,, coming up with measures to increase the animals’ population enpugh to rule out extinction is achievable. Hence, the purpose of this management plan is to reduce the threats that have caused the reduction of Borneo elephant. This objective will be achieved in two ways which include;Relocation of some Borneo elephant to other areas, that have similar characteristics with their original habitat, that are less affected by human social and economic activities as well as predators.  

Setting up orphanages and game reserves that will be used to aid orphaned calf to grow to maturity as well as researchers learn more about the animals that will help in developing strategies to help the recovery process of the species.

Currently, the government, through initiatives promoted under the “Heart of Borneo” agreement, ensures that the rapid depletion of forestland throughout central Sabah will not be experienced in the future. However, when engaging in a species management and recovery program it can be argued that the remaining land is not enough to host a large population of pygmy elephants. Additionally, a larger crowd of the animals would mean more altercation between the beasts with farmers. Therefore, there is a need for the relocation of some animals to less populated locations as well as game reserves that have similar physical conditions with their habitat. This solution will see an increase in the pygmy elephant numbers without the risk of human altercation.

Additionally, relocation them to game reserves will allow scientists to study the animals; therefore, information such as breeding practices may be better understood, and consequently, aid in increasing their population in the long-term. The current conservation efforts to save the Bornean elephant have been placed to protect the animals range as well as better land use. However, as yet, none of the recommendation previously presented has been put into practice, not on the basis of the lack of priority or interest in policy, but the lack of information. Alfred, et al., (2011) state that the pygmy remains endangered because little is known about the elephant’s habitat use, migration and seasonal movement, as well as animal profiling; for example, female behavior during mating season or bulls’ risk to other elephants during musk period. There is a need to fill in these knowledge gaps to because with enough information concerning the species, policy makes can create effective population recovery strategies that would save the species from extinction.         

According to Fui and Bema (2005), the management of endangered species requires significant public participation. In China, the World wildlife Fund used a public awareness program to aid in the recovery process of the endangered Panda. A similar program can be used in this case, there is a need to open up orphanages for young elephants and game reserves for the larger, older animals so as to attract the public’s attention. In Africa, one of the solutions that were highlighted to aid in helping the African elephant’s population recovery is the development of orphanages for the young calves where the public bought their younglings within the opharanage, paid for their feeding and safekeeping. After three years of the program, there were more requests from the public in terms of adopting a calf. Therefore, the same services were diverted to developing game reserves to aid the safekeeping of the larger older animals, and these game reserves have seen a considerable reduction of poaching and an increase in population figures of the animals for the first time in decades.        

Conclusion      

The Borneo pygmy elephant was first identified as an endangered species in 1986 when it was established that its population hand more than halved in three generations. Currently, it is estimated that only 1500 of these elephants remain in the wild. The Borneo pygmy elephant is only found in the northern and northeastern parts of Borneo Island at Sabah and Kalimantan states. The Borneo authorities have embarked on cautious efforts to increase the elephant’s numbers but not much success has been achieved. The reason for this has been blamed on increasing human social and economic activity that has seen threats facing the Borneo pygmy elephant augment over the decades. Currently, the threats include forest fragmentation, diseases, poaching, and increased exposure to attacks by predators. In reference to the threats indicated against the Borneo pygmy relocation and the development of game reserves as well as orphanages, guarantee an increase in the animal’s population.   

References

Alfred, R., Ahmad, A., Payne, J., Williams, C., Ambu, L., How, P., & Goossens, B. (2012). Home Range and Ranging Behaviour of Bornean Elephant (Elephas maximus borneensis) Females. Plos ONE, 7(2), e31400. Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0031400

Alfred, R., Ambu, L., Nathan, S., & Goossens, B. (2011). Current Status of Asian Elephants in Borneo. Gajah.

English, M., Gillespie, G., Ancrenaz, M., Ismail, S., Goossens, B., Nathan, S., & Linklater, W. (2014). Plant selection and avoidance by the Bornean elephant (Elephas maximus borneensis) in tropical forest: does plant recovery rate after herbivory influence food choices?. Journal Of Tropical Ecology, 30(04).

Fui, D., & Bema, D. (2005). Guidelines on the Better Management Practices for the Mitigation and Management of Human-Elephant Conflict in and around Oil-Palm Plantations in Indonesia and Malaysia (1st ed.). Selangor: WWF-Malaysia. Retrieved from http://www.rspo.org/files/resource_centre/HEC%20BMP%20guide%20v1.0%2020050729.pdf

Good, K. (2014). WTH? Borneo’s Endangered Pygmy Elephants are Being Poisoned by Palm Oil Producers. One Green Planet. Retrieved from http://www.onegreenplanet.org/animalsandnature/borneos-endangered-pygmy-elephants-are-being-poisoned-by-palm-oil-producers/

Goossens, B., Sharma, R., Othman, N., Kun-Rodrigues, C., Sakong, R., & Ancrenaz, M. et al. (2016). Habitat fragmentation and genetic diversity in natural populations of the Bornean elephant: Implications for conservation. Biological Conservation, 196.

Hance, J. (2017). World’s smallest elephants killed for ivory in Borneo. the Guardian. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/jan/03/wborneo-pygmy-smallest-elephants-pygmy-killed-for-ivoryorlds-smallest-elephants-killed-for-ivory-in-borneo

Loong, J. M. (2015). Wildlife and Human Interaction: Creating a Mindful Link between the Visitor and Pygmy Elephant Territories. McGraw Hill.

Phillipps, Q., &Phillipps, K. (2016). Phillipps’ Field Guide to the Mammals of Borneo and Their Ecology: Sabah, Sarawak, Brunei, and Kalimantan. Princeton University Press.

Rautner, M., Hardiono, M., & Alfred, R. J. (2015). Borneo: Treasure island at risk : status of forest, wildlife, and related threats on the Island of Borneo. Frankfurt am Main: WWF Germany.

Sukumar, R. (2006). A brief review of the status, distribution and biology of wild Asian elephants Elephas maximus. International Zoo Yearbook, 40(1).