Borneo Elephant

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Baby Pygmy Elephant

Zoo expecting first captive born pygmy elephant

07 October, 2006 - Daily Express Sabah

Kota Kinabalu: The Sabah Zoological and Botanical Park in Lok Kawi, 25km from here, is expecting the first birth of a Borneo pygmy elephant by a captive jumbo in 16 months. State Wildlife Department Deputy Director, Laurentius N. Ambu said the cow elephant was now into her sixth-month of pregnancy. "We have to monitor the progress of the elephant pregnancy. God willing, if she is healthy we will have the first captive born baby elephant in 16 months," he said at a mock cheque presentation-cum-launching of the Orang Utan Exhibit.

The RM25,000 was from the Shangri-La's Rasa Ria Resort for the yearly general upkeep of the Orang Utan Exhibit.
Thanks to the resort's generosity, Laurentius said the money would certainly complement the zoo's budget in maintaining its orang utan exhibit.

"We are also inviting a number of corporations to take part in similar programmes, just like what Rasa Ria is doing," he said.
Although the money would not be enough to cover the annual expenses in the exhibit's upkeep, he said it would at least supplement the cost. The resort, he said, has been actively assisting the Government since 1996 via a smart partnership to rehabilitate and to conserve the orang utan.

He said the Nature Reserve at the resort successfully demonstrates the effectiveness of a smart partnership between the government and private sector working hand-in-hand on nature conservation programmes.
The cheque presentation, he said, marked the first of the resort's annual contribution to the Orang Utan Exhibit at the zoo also known as Lok Kawi Zoo.

Meanwhile, Laurentius said the zoo would be opening its doors to the public after all components in the facility have been completed."But it looks like the rain is taking a heavy toll on us particularly the construction," he said.

Among the facilities that are currently still undergoing construction, he said include the reptile house and animal show enclosure, among others. Earlier, the zoo had targeted end of this year to fully open its doors to the public.
By then, Laurentius said the zoo has projected an annual income of RM2 million.

He said they were also banking on the Visit Malaysia 2007 and its animal show feature to attract people to the zoo.
To maintain the RM24m zoo, he said they need at least RM2m, not inclusive of the salaries of its more than 51 staff.
According to him, about 80 per cent of the animals kept at park will be local species while the remaining 20 per cent, imported from other countries.

In addition to the animal exhibits, the park would see a 1.4km walking trail and another cycling trail for visitors to see the flora inside the perimeters of the zoo. Also planned are orchid exhibitions, fernarium, butterfly farm, insecterium as well as exhibits of medicinal plants, nephentes (periuk kera) and ginger, among others.

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  • Sunday, December 24, 2006



    The Global Positioning System (GPS), is the only fully-functional satellite navigation system. More than two dozen GPS satellites orbit the Earth, transmitting radio signals which allow GPS receivers to determine their location, speed and direction.

    Since the first experimental satellite was launched in 1978, GPS has become indispensable for navigation around the world and an important tool for map-making and land surveying. GPS also provides a precise time reference used in many applications including scientific study of earthquakes, and synchronization of telecommunications networks.

    Developed by the United States Department of Defense, it is officially named NAVSTAR GPS (Navigation Signal Timing and Ranging Global Positioning System). The satellite constellation is managed by the United States Air Force 50th Space Wing. Although the cost of maintaining the system is approximately US$400 million per year, including the replacement of aging satellites, GPS is free for civilian use as a public good.

    In late 2005, the first in a series of next-generation GPS satellites was added to the constellation, offering several new capabilities, including a second civilian GPS signal called L2C for enhanced accuracy and reliability. In the coming years, additional next-generation satellites will increase coverage of L2C and add a third and fourth civilian signal to the system, as well as advanced military capabilities.

    How does GPS works

    A GPS receiver calculates its position by measuring the distance between itself and three or more GPS satellites. Measuring the time delay between transmission and reception of each GPS radio signal gives the distance to each satellite, since the signal travels at a known speed. The signals also carry information about the satellites' location. By determining the position of, and distance to, at least three satellites, the receiver can compute its location using trilateration.[1] Receivers do not have perfectly accurate clocks, and must track one extra satellite to correct their clock error.

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  • Saturday, December 23, 2006

    From Zero to Hero

    From Zero to Hero.

    The Borneo Pygmy Elephant was once consider, as pest is now the anchor attraction for tourism for Sabah. This animal is still in some part is consider a pest to local farmers, as they will over one evening will ‘destroy’ a plot of farm land planted with produces.

    With the importance of tourism as part of the income for the country immediate steps need to be taken to address this problem. To high light the problem an article from Nat-Geo news focus on the matter.

    Fernando, Columbia University biologist Don Melnick, and a group of researchers in the United States, India, and Malaysia set out to settle the debate once and for all. The team gathered two different types of DNA samples from local elephants, and compared it to DNA taken from animals across the Asian elephant's range, including Sumatra, Peninsular Malaysia, and India—three likely possible sources of introduced elephants.

    The analysis showed that, while Borneo's elephants bear most similarity to elephants from Malaysia, they are genetically distinct from all Asian elephants. "If Borneo elephants were introduced, they would not have had time to become genetically distinct from the source population [in just 250 years]," said Fernando.

    The most probable explanation is that the animals became isolated from those on the mainland 18,000 years ago when the last land bridges disappeared under rising sea levels. However the genetic differences are great enough to hint that Borneo's elephants may have been a distinct population for as many as 30,000 years, says the report.

    The results of this analysis "are very tight in my opinion," said Samuel K. Wasser, a conservation biologist at the University of Washington in Seattle. The elephants "likely came over on a land-bridge present during the glacial periods of the Pleistocene," when sea levels were lower, he said.

    Conservation Priority

    The elephants should now be considered a conservation priority, "representing an important extension of the Asian elephants' known range," said Wasser. The find extends the natural range of the Asian elephant by 1,300 kilometers (800 miles).

    Conservation projects are now essential. "The whole population is only a couple of thousand animals," said Fernando. "There is widespread habitat loss in Borneo, and there are very few captive animals."
    Finding that these elephants are unique and have been isolated for at least 18,000 years, means that elephants from other regions shouldn't be introduced, as they may not share adaptations to local conditions, observed Eggert, the Smithsonian conservation geneticist. "These animals have co-evolved with parasites and pathogens, as well as local food plants," she said. "Introducing outside animals could disrupt those adaptations."

    The study's authors argue that Borneo's elephants deserve reassignment to their own sub-species, but that may have to wait for a more comprehensive analysis of the physical differences to other Asian elephants.

    Article from Nat-Geo news.

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  • Friday, December 22, 2006

    GPS on Elephants

    Satellite Tracking Five Pygmy Elephants in Borneo

    In June 2005, WWF outfitted five pygmy elephants with satellite collars and began tracking them through the forests of Borneo for two years to learn more about these little pachyderms. They're pint-sized, chubby and gentle-natured - and found nowhere else on Earth.

    The scientific world knows almost nothing about them. How many are there? Do they form the same matriarchal societies as other elephants? Why do they live only in a tiny pocket of forest on the northeast tip of Borneo? One thing we do know is that they are under severe threat as their jungle habitat is considered prime real estate for commercial palm oil plantations. As they must search harder for food in a shrinking habitat, they are often seen as crop-raiding pests by plantation workers and small farmers. WWF guesstimates that there are as few as 1,500 pygmy elephants remaining, but further research is needed to determine a better count.

    Watch a video about the radio collaring project.

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  • Tuesday, December 19, 2006

    Borneo Elephant

    The Borneo 'pygmy elephant' has been recognised as a new subspecies of Asian elephant.

    The Borneo Elephant or Borneo Pygmy Elephant Elephas maximus borneensis is a subspecies of the Asian Elephant and found in north Borneo (east Sabah and extreme north Kalimantan).

    The origin of Borneo elephants was controversial. Two competing hypotheses argued that they are either indigenous, or were introduced - to Borneo by the British East India Company as gifts to the Sultan of Sulu in the 17th Century. In 2003, mitochondrial DNA research has discovered that its ancestors separated from the mainland population during the Pleistocene, about 300,000 years ago. The Borneo elephant became isolated from other Asian elephant populations when land bridges that linked Borneo with the Sunda Islands and the mainland disappeared after the Last Glacial Maximum, 18,000 years ago.

    Since the Borneo elephant became isolated it has become smaller with relatively larger ears, longer tails, and relatively straight tusks. It is smaller than all the other subspecies of the Asian elephant. The Borneo elephant is also remarkably tame and passive, one reason scientists had thought it was descended from a domestic collection.

    Wild Asian elephant populations are disappearing as expanding human development disrupts their migration routes, depletes their food sources, and destroys their habitat. Recognizing these elephants as native to Borneo makes their conservation a high priority and gives biologists important clues about how to manage them.

    Bornean 'Pygmy' Elephant info from wikipedia

    Here are some of my photos of the Bornean ‘Pygmy” Elephant in Sukau, Kinabatangan, Sabah.

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