Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Extinct Javan Elephant Returned?

The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has reported that the Javan Elephant, thought extinct since the 1800s due to hunting, is actually alive and comparatively the form of the Pygmy Elephant of Borneo. Recent DNA evidence suggests that the elephants on Borneo are actually direct descendants of those elephants rather than of the more common Asian Elephants as has been thought. The current idea is that the Sultan of Sulu, who was known for shipping the elephants around as gifts for various other rulers, sent some to Borneo where they escaped and and have become their own subspecies. Here is a link to the WWF article.

According to the WWF: "Borneo pygmy elephants are smaller than other Asian elephants. The males may only grow to less than 2.5 meters, while other Asian elephants grow up to 3 meters. They also have babyish faces, larger ears, longer tails that reach almost to the ground and are more rotund. These elephants are also less aggressive than other Asian elephants." Sadly, they do remain highly endangered with an estimated wild population around 1,000.

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