Rainforest Trust and a local partner in Borneo announced a critical land purchase at the juncture of the Kinabatangan River and a tributary that is a major pinch-point for migrating Pygmy Elephants in Sabah.
“This small but strategic property safeguards a major pinch-point for migrating Pygmy Elephants in Sabah,” said Rainforest Trust CEO Dr. Paul Salaman. “This property is one of the most important river crossing points between two protected areas and was at risk of being converted to an oil palm plantation, which would have greatly hindered the passage of over 100 Critically Endangered Bornean Pygmy Elephants. In fact, in 2016 I had the pleasure of witnessing a family of Pygmy Elephants crossing from this very property that was for sale.”
In an effort to provide a connected landscape for the region’s species, Rainforest Trust’s local partner is working to protect the Kinabatangan Corridor, which links wildlife reserves and provides orangutans and elephants with safe passage in one of Malaysia’s most beautiful tropical rainforests. This land within the corridor was sought by the oil palm industry, making its protection all the more critical.
As the world’s third largest island, Borneo is home to some of Earth’s oldest rainforests. Due to its geographic isolation and tropical location along the equator, the island hosts an exceptional abundance of unique wildlife. Many of its spectacular species are endemic to the island, including more than one third of its plants. Pygmy Elephants – which are smaller and have larger ears than their Asian counterparts – are found on the island, in addition to Bornean Orangutans, which have broader faces, shorter beards and darker colors than their cousins on Sumatra. Bizarre-looking Proboscis Monkeys sport large, pendulous noses and partially webbed feet for swimming across rivers. These animals are keystone species, playing a vital role in maintaining the forest ecosystem’s health as seed dispersers across their ranges.
Now a lifeline for Pygmy Elephants, the new protected area is frequented by other imperiled wildlife such as Sun Bears, Clouded Leopards and Bornean Ground-cuckoos. The corridor’s benefits even extend to the local community, conserving traditional fishing grounds and providing ecotourism opportunities to support their livelihoods.
With the support of our generous friends around the world and the SAVES Challenge this project was a success. A special thank you to Avaaz Foundation, Nicolas and Lisa Barthelemy, George Jett, Sandra Moss, Larry Thompson and Tracie Willis for their leadership support.
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