Borneo Elephant - The Smallest Elephant

The Borneo elephant is the smallest sub-specie of Asian elephants. The other sub-species are- the Indian elephant, the Sumatran elephant and the Sri-Lanka elephant. The average height of the Borneo elephant is 8.2 - 9.8 feet. As the name suggests, the Borneo elephant is found on the island of Borneo in Malaysia. The local people of Borneo refer to this elephant as ‘Bornean Pygmy Elephants’. Even the world’s smallest elephant are not safe from poachers. The estimated numbers of Borneo elephant left in the jungle is only 1500.   People kill the elephant for its skin and trunk. The loss of jungle is another major reason for its declining population. As the population is increasing, more and more jungles are being converted into irrigation land so that commercial crops can be grown.  Conservationists are taking serious steps towards protection of wildlife but along with them people also have to stop poaching and deforesting. The elephants are herbivorous in nature. They live in dense forest where there is constant availability of food.

The Borneo Elephant and The African Elephant

The Borneo elephant and the African elephant look a lot different from each other. The Borneo elephants are smaller in height than African ones. They also have smaller ears and more curved spine than African ones. Both female and male elephants have tusk but Borneo elephants do not have tusk. However some female have tusk but it is barely visible. You can see the tusk only when elephant opens her mouth.


Borneo Elephant History

The presence of Borneo elephant in one of the largest island of the world is still a mystery. According to archeologists, elephant trading or sending as gift to kings was tradition in 16th-18th centuries. It is speculated that the elephant was gifted to sultan of Sulu by king of the Java or Sumatra. The sultan of Sulu set the elephant free on Borneo Island and from there its existence to the island is known. In the latest DNA report it has been proved that the Borneo elephants are separate wild animals.

Borneo Elephant Characteristics & Information

  1. The animal belongs to Borneo Island
  2. It is also known by names- Borneo Pygmy Elephant and Elephas Maximus Borneensis
  3. The Borneo elephants are smaller than African elephants
  4. The life expectancy of the elephant is 60 – 75 years
  5. The weight of the elephant is 3000 – 5000kg
  6. The male Borneo elephant can grow up to 7 to 10 feet
  7. Mostly the elephants are of grey color. They can also come in blackish grey or brownish grey color but that is quite rare
  8. The Borneo elephant are the cutest of all elephants
  9. The elephants have tough and hard skin. They have minimal hair on their body so they do not shed
  10. The elephants are diurnal animals. They are active and search for food in day time
  11. Animals depend upon natural vegetation, trees, fruits, grass for their survival. They are herbivorous in nature
  12. In general elephants are healthy animals. They might suffer from arthritis or foot abscesses
  13. The Borneo elephants have got baby face which makes them look adorable
  14. The Borneo elephants live in groups and in harmony. They are non-violent in nature and avoid human contacts.

Borneo Elephant Facts For Kids

  1. The Borneo elephant is the smallest in the world
  2. The tail of the elephant is so long that it touches the ground
  3. The gestation period of the elephant is approximately 22 months
  4. The average litter size is 1
  5. The female elephant becomes sexually mature at the age of 10
  6. The size and strength of the elephant has put it highest in the food chain order. The elephants have threat only from humans and tigers/lions
  7. The offspring weighs around 100 kg when they are born. The animals gain weight faster than most of the animals
  8. It has been seen that female elephants live with their mother throughout her life whereas male elephant lives a solitary as well as independent life. He leaves her mother at the age of 5 or so
  9. The elephants migrate seasonally. They follow strict path of migration. Generally it is expected from elder member to know the path
  10. The elephants migrate in the wet and dry seasons only
  11. As per researchers, the Borneo elephant become smaller with time
  12. Despite being bulky, the elephants can reach the speed up to 43kmph
  13. According to 2007-08 censuses, only 1000-1500 elephants are left.


The Borneo elephants look different than other elephants. They look cute and baby-like even in old age. They are neither gigantic nor aggressive which set them apart from rest of the elephant species. The animal has roundish skull with comparatively smaller ears than other elephants. The belly of the elephant is plumper and spine is more curved. The tail of the animals is long and sometimes it touches the ground. The females have no tusk; But some females can be seen with tusk which is so small that it gets noticed only when she opens her mouth.

  • Size and Weight

The average height and weight of an elephant should be in proportion to 72-90%. The elephants stand at a height of 7 to 10 feet. The weight of the elephant is 6, 500 – 11,000lbs.

  • Coat and Color

This feature is similar to all other elephants. The elephants have no coat on their body. Their skin is thick enough to protect them from thorns and harsh weather climate. Generally the Borneo elephants are grey in color. It is rare to find brownish gray and blackish gray colored elephants.


The Borneo elephants are gentler in nature than any other elephants. They are extremely affectionate creature and prefer to live a peaceful life. In order to avoid depression and physiological disorders, the elephants live in a herd which is matriarchal society. The society consists of an average 8 members, it can be more in number too. Usually this animal prefers to live alongside river or any other water bodies.    


The Borneo elephants are passive in nature and highly trainable. Like other animals, they avoid human contact but destruction of their habitat is forcing them to come closer to humans. These elephants also follow seasonal migration pattern. This keeps them fit and in good body shape. They are active animals and they walk approximately 25 - 30 miles per day. The Borneo elephants are also good swimmers.



The elephants are herbivorous animals. They are highly dependent upon plants, fruits, trees and grass for their survival. The trunk of the animals helps them to gather food. They also eat bark to fulfill their nutrition requirement.


The elephants are not prone to danger from wild animals. Lions and humans are the only enemies of elephants.


The elephants can live up to 65-70 years if they live a danger free and healthy life.

Health Issues

Their death due to medical issue is quite rare in Borneo elephants. They have a healthy lifespan. The elephants that are kept in captivity may suffer from arthritis and foot abscesses.


The elephants are big in size and hard to groom. They usually stay near water bodies and sprinkle water on their body with the help of trunk.


The Borneo elephants live in the lowland rainforest and valleys of the Borneo Island more specifically, in Sabah (Malaysia) and in Kalimantan (Indonesia).


The female elephant reaches her sexual maturity at the age of 10 years. They have a gestation period of two years (almost 19-22 months). They give birth to one calf at a time. In a lifetime they give birth to 7 calves. Generally after every 4 - 6 years they get pregnant. It has been seen that the female always stays throughout her life with mother while the male gets separated in later age.