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Learn About the World's Smallest Elephants

The Bornean elephant is the largest mammal on the huge island of Borneo. These elephants are also known as Borneo pygmy elephants because of their size.

Compared to other elephants, Bornean elephants have larger ears, straighter tusks, and are smaller in size. In fact, Borneo elephant tails sometimes touch the ground because they are so short. Bornean elephants are remnants of a domesticated herd from the 17th century. They were isolated about 300,000 years ago from other elephants in Asia and Sumatra; this caused them to evolve separately on the island of Borneo.

Bornean elephants are facing extinction due to deforestation and environmental destruction. Logging, agriculture, and palm oil plantations are to blame for this deforestation. Elephants are struggling to find enough food on the island of Borneo because only 40 percent of their habitat remains. Due to their size, these elephants require bigger areas to find food. The World Wildlife Fund has listed these elephants as endangered. Without addressing the deforestation problem, we are at risk of losing them forever.

[Sources: World Wildlife Fund;; PBS]

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