DGFC is assisting the Sabah Wildlife Department (SWD) to understand the movement of elephants in other parts of Sabah besides the Lower Kinabatangan. The areas are mainly in the Telupid Complex, Lahad Datu and Central Sabah. The main goal of this project is to try to find long term solutions to reduce human-elephant conflicts by giving early warning to the SWD and people about the movement of elephants so that early precautions can be taken to avoid any harm both to people and elephants.
Elephants are regarded as a flagship species for the conservation of biodiversity. By having knowledge of the areas that are crucial for elephants, we will ensure the survival of this and other animal species. At the same time, we need to find long term solutions to reduce and minimize the conflict between people and elephants. We hope to increase the level of tolerance from people, and create awareness among all the stakeholders who are involved directly and indirectly with elephant conservation in Sabah through data sharing, disseminating the results publicly, and regular discussions.
Recently, GPS data from 29 elephant individuals and from airborne LiDAR forest mapping was used to model the distribution of elephants throughout Sabah in the most wide-scale analysis of forest use by Bornean elephants to date. Flat lowland areas, with optimal forest stature of ~13 m, were found to be of highest suitability for elephants. These habitats are at high risk of conversion, often viewed as suitable for oil palm cultivation.
Less than a quarter of fully-protected intact forests in Sabah were of suitable stature for elephants, whereas disturbed commercial forest reserves were found to be highly suitable. Therefore, a focus on the sole protection of remnant primary forest is detrimental to the future of the Bornean elephant.