AREAS (Asian Rhino and Elephant Action Strategy) | WWF Malaysia

AREAS (Asian Rhino and Elephant Action Strategy)

Borneon Pygmy elephant
<i>(Elephas maximus borneensis)</i> rel=
Borneon Pygmy elephant (Elephas maximus borneensis)
© WWF-Malaysia/Stephen Hogg

Landscape approach to save endangered large mammals

In 1999, WWF launched the Asian Rhino and Elephant Action Strategy (AREAS) which recognises that saving endangered large mammal species will only be possible through efforts at the broader landscape level, rather than by focusing on isolated protected areas.

WWF’s AREAS project in Sabah, Malaysia, has been active since 2001 - striving to ensure that wild breeding populations of the Asian elephant (and Sumatran rhinoceros) on the island of Borneo are protected. This is done by working to conserve existing areas with suitable habitat in Sabah that supports these species.

The AREAS team works closely with government agencies, such as the Sabah Wildlife Department, Sabah Forestry Department and Sabah Foundation in both field surveys and planning. This project aims to provide reliable information to all three Sabah authorities and hopes to influence decision-making on land use so as to integrate the elephants’ needs with plantation development.

Largest satellite tracking study of elephants in Asia
With most of the Borneo Pygmy elephants surviving in areas threatened by conversion to plantations and habitat fragmentation, it is vital to ascertain their habitat and corridor needs. In 2005, WWF attached satellite collars to five pygmy elephants, making this the largest satellite tracking study of elephants ever conducted in Asia. We have tracked at least 2 elephant groups in Ulu Segama-Malua Forest Reserve since June 2005.

This project aims to ensure the long-term survival of Bornean elephants in the wild, the security of its habitat and that conflict with plantations is minimised. This is done by:

  • Determining the habitat needs of Bornean elephants by investigating elephant movement and behaviour while monitoring land use changes.
  • Identifying much needed forest blocks used by Bornean elephants to influence decision-makers of land use policy within the Sabah government and the Sabah Foundation, as well as other Forest Management Unit concession holders, which will integrate the needs of elephants with those of plantation development.