Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Help WWF keep Brumas (our satellite-collared elephant) and her herd safe in Sabah !

Elephants are among the most intelligent creatures on earth and they are able to display remarkable family bonds and social lives. When elephants bump into a familiar herd, they will rejoice with loud trumpets through gestures such as a tilt of the head or flap of the ear.

In 2005, WWF- Malaysia and Sabah Wildlife Deparment set ou on an elephant satellite tracking project to place satellite collars on adult female elephants that are at least six feet tall and weighs approximately one tonne.

Recently, our ranges John Japil and Julian Herman tracked down a magnificent female whom we named “Brumas” after the plantation where we placed a satellite collar on her. I am pleased to report that Brumas and her family were seen enjoying a salad of grass and other tasty plants in a wildlife-friendly oil palm plantation in Brumas, Tawau.

The Borneo elephant is an umbrella species that play important role in maintaining the biodiversity of the ecosystem in which they live in. These mega gardeners are excellent seed dispersers that help regenerate our forests. As their diet includes forest fruits, these seeds pass through their digestive system and are deposited far and wide, thereby helping the spread of new plants and tress which serves as food and shelter for other wildlife in the area!

When we protect umbrella species such as elephants, we also protect its habitat.

Just three years ago, 14 Borneo elepehants were found dead in the Gunung Rara Forest Reserve which is adjacent to a forest which was converted into oil palm plantation. Poisoining was suspected to be the cause of this tragedy because plantation workers allegedly poisoned the elephants as retribution for damages to their crops.

Elephants can eat up to 150kg of vegetation per day, feeding mostly on palms, grasses and wild bananas. Sadly, their quest for food puts the animals in continual conflict with humans.

Borneo elephants are a far-ranging species; therefore satellite tracking is one of the most effective ways to obtain information on their movement patterns. Once the collar has been fitted on an elephant, it will send the location of its wearer to WWF-Malaysia via satellite positioning as often as every two hours daily.

The information obtained from the satellite collar will help us to advocate for their protection of their key habitats and their establishment of corridors to connect fragmented habitats. Knowledge of their movements will also help us to recommend HEC mitigation options to the Sabah Wildlife Department and to plantation companies involved in this conflict.

Data from the collaring projects shows us movement of the herd. If a herd moves slowly, it could be because the herd has a new born and the mother is nursing its baby.

Source: WWF-Malaysia.

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