Pygmy Elephant of Borneo

The pygmy elephants of Borneo, also known as Bornean elephants (Elephas maximus borneensis), are a subspecies of Asian elephants that are found exclusively on the island of Borneo. We offer a very good chance to see and photograph these elusive giants, although so-called Pygmy Elephant in our  Kinabatangan River Cruise, Deramakot, Danum Valley and Tabin Wildlife Reserve trips.

Size and Appearance:

Bornean elephants are the smallest subspecies of Asian elephants. They typically stand at about 2.5 to 3 meters (8 to 10 feet) tall at the shoulder. They have a stocky body with a rounded belly and relatively large ears. Compared to other Asian elephant subspecies, their tusks are shorter and straighter.


These elephants primarily inhabit the tropical rainforests, river valleys, and swampy areas of northeastern Borneo, including the states of Sabah and parts of Kalimantan. They are adapted to a forested environment and are capable of traversing various terrains.

Behavior and Social Structure:

Bornean elephants are social animals that live in herds consisting of females and their offspring. The herds can range in size from a few individuals to more than 30 elephants. Adult males are generally solitary or may form small bachelor groups. They communicate through vocalizations, body language, and scent marking.

Conservation Status and Threats:

Bornean elephants are classified as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). They face numerous threats, including habitat loss due to deforestation and land conversion for agriculture, mining, and human settlements. Encroachment into their habitat leads to increased human-elephant conflict. Additionally, poaching for their ivory tusks and other body parts remains a concern, although it is relatively lower compared to other elephant populations.

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