Borneo’s Homeless Pygmy Elephants
On the fringes of the Bornean jungle, Aaron ‘Bertie’ Gekoski continues his training as a wildlife ranger and visits Dr Laura Benedict at Sepilok and legendary Jibius “JB” Dausip at Borneo Elephant Sanctuary, home to Borneo’s most vulnerable elephants. Bornean Elephants, known locally and commonly as pygmy elephants due to their small size, are physically and behaviourally different from the elephants of mainland Asia. They are baby-faced with oversized ears, plump bellies and long tails which often reach all the way to the ground.
JB, also known as the elephant guru, has worked with pygmy elephants for more than 30 years, helping to rehabilitate displaced and injured adult elephants so they can be released back into the wild. These elephants are mostly the victims of human elephant conflict and are now facing the threat of extinction. Due to increasing urban and agricultural development and dwindling pockets of forest, pygmy elephants are leaving the forest in search of food. As they cross into plantations and villages, they are chased away, harmed or even killed by humans.
Bertie also accompanies senior vet, Dr Laura on her daily rounds as she checks on the baby elephants. She recounts the tragic story of a 3-month-old orphaned elephant, who was rescued wandering a plantation by himself after his herd had left him behind. Watch the documentary to see these adorable baby elephants play outside, spending much-needed time outside of their small enclosures. ‘By having them out here’, Dr Laura explains, ‘they will be able to stretch out and forage for leaves that can and cannot be eaten’.
From abandoned babies to homeless adults, the Wildlife Rescue Unit are working tirelessly to protect threatened pygmy elephants to prevent them from quietly slipping into extinction.
Did you know? A pygmy elephant eats around 250 kilos of food per day!
Story Written by Work Experience Graduate, Sonam Nundoochan