Pygmy or just Borneo elephant?
Today, Sabah is known as the home of the Borneo pygmy elephant and almost everyone calls it so, but is there really such a thing as a “Borneo pygmy elephant”?
Surprisingly the answer is no! They is no such thing.
So, why is it called Borneo pygmy elephant, then and why do we continue to call it so?
Well, we can trace it back to August 18, 2003, when PLoS Biology published a paper by Fernando et al, showing DNA evidence that the elephant found in Borneo (Sabah and bordering Indonesia Kalimantan) was indeed a unique subspecies.
This was welcomed news because it gave the population a higher importance in terms of conservation and it also reclaimed it’s scientific taxa name of Elephas maximus borneensis which was first introduced in 1950 by a Deraniyagala PEP in a published paper. This was later “revoked” when it was thought to be the same species of elephant as those found on Sumatra or India.
With conclusive DNA evidence however, it was re-taxa as the Elephas maximus borneensis and was refereed to in the 2003 paper as the Borneo elephant.
And from then, it caught on and almost everyone calls the elephant the Borneo pygmy elephant and people in Sabah are rather fond and proud of this elephant and its name hence most of us working in conservation continue to call it the Borneo pygmy elephant.
To read the 2003 paper, click here: DNA Analysis Indicates That Asian Elephants Are Native to Borneo and Are Therefore a High Priority for Conservation
To read the 2003 Press Release, click here: New elephant subspecies discovered