Borneo Pygmy Elephant Facts | Anatomy, Range, Habitat, Behavior

The Borneo pygmy elephant (Elephas maximus borneensis) or the Borneo elephant is an endangered species that lives in the northeastern Borneo, Malaysia, and Indonesia. It has a life expectancy of about 60 years in the wild. Borneo elephants are one of the least understood of elephants.

Borneo Pygmy Elephant Facts


  • The adult elephants stand 8.2 – 9.8 feet high.
  • Pygmy Borneo elephants are a subspecies of Asian elephants but both are different not in physical disposition but also in their behavior.
  • Borneo elephants are thought to have separated from Asian elephants some 300,000 years ago. Although they are smaller in size yet the ears are large. They also possess long tails.
  • Elephants weigh up to 3,000kg – 5,000kg.
  • They are able to run as fast as 43 kilometers per hour.


  • They are believed to move in small groups.
  • The dominant male leads the group and he guides the entire group during long-movements.
  • The average lifespan of pygmy Borneo elephant is 65 – 70 years.
  • Borneo pygmy elephants feed on grass, roots, shoots, nuts, and fruits.
  • The gestation period is nearly of 2 years.
  • A female reaches a maturity at 10 years age.
  • Female Borneo elephants have very small or no tusks.
borneo pygmy elephant facts
Borneo Pygmy Elephant ©

Range & Habitat

  • They are thought to build habitats at an altitude of about 300 to 1,500 m (980 to 4,920 ft). The dipterocarp forest presents an ideal ambiance to Borneo elephants for making habitats.
  • Some of its isolated population is also found in the upper Sembakung River in the east. The pygmy Borneo elephant’s range is believed to have expanded only a little in the last 100 years or so.
  • There were around 500 – 2,000 elephants left in the wild in 1992. Currently the estimated population is 1,184 – 3,652 in the Lower Kinabatangan, Ulu Kalumpang, and North Kinabatangan.


  • Pygmy Borneo elephants once occupied much of the West Asia to as far east as Sumatra, Java and of course Borneo. Elephants living in the West Asia became extinct by 100 BC.
  • In non-fragmented forests, Borneo elephants have a home range of about 250 to 400 km2 while in fragmented habitats elephants over 600 sq. km.
  • They are less likely to be aggressive than the Asian elephants.
  • Borneo elephants are remarkable swimmers and they often cross river barriers.
  • It is also the largest mammal in Borneo.
  • They don’t really cause damage to the small vegetation or trees.
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