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Conserving world's rarest elephants

08 Medi 2007

Scientists from Cardiff University are planning to set up a field centre in Borneo to research and conserve the smallest and rarest elephants in the world.

The Bornean Elephant is the focus of a three year study by a group from the School of Biosciences, led by Professor Michael Bruford. From a base in the Malaysian state of Sabah the team are exploring conservation and management strategies for the species.

Now the group is in discussions with the Sabah Wildlife Department about the possibilities of setting up a field centre in Borneo to further study the elephants, as well as the orang-utans which also live in the rainforest.

Professor Michael Bruford of the School of Biosciences said: "We’ve been trying to work out how habitat changes have affected the Bornean elephant. Where they used to roam freely, there are plantations all around. We are continuing to work with the Sabah wildlife department and are setting up a little field centre with them next year."

The Bornean elephant is the most endangered member of the elephant family, with an estimated 1,500 - 2,000 currently surviving in the wild. Their habitat has been changed by oil palm plantations and logging, which has also affected the orang-utans.

Professor Bruford and the research team hope that the field centre will allow them to study in depth the Bornean elephants, orang-utans and other animals and to develop conservation and habitat management plans.