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Zoo News Blog

See Elephants at the Zoo, Save Them in Borneo

Thanks to your visit to the Houston Zoo, we are able to send vital support to protect elephants in Borneo. We are extremely fortunate to have members of our extended zoo family working in Asia to ensure the survival of Bornean elephants. The Kinabatangan Elephant Conservation Unit (ECU) works with local communities in Borneo to raise awareness, improve human-wildlife relationships, and give farmers the tools and training they need for elephant-friendly crop protection. The Danau Girang Field Centre is conducting the first population biology study of the Bornean elephant, and as a part of this effort, the zoo is able to provide funding for radio collars, camera traps, and graduate student scholarships. Dr. Nurzhafarina (Farina) Othman, a Malaysian scientist and member of the Houston Zoo conservation field staff is focused on gaining a better understanding of Bornean elephant habitat needs.

Farina is studying the elephants’ migratory patterns through the Kinabatangan River range. Elephants require large amounts of land to live; when that land is turned into farms or plantations, the elephants sometimes move through the crops to get to more habitat. Land use and development are extremely important in this region and Farina’s study is helping local communities and government agencies reduce the conflict surrounding elephants needing to cut through local crops and plantations to get back to the river. She is working with palm oil plantations to find solutions for wildlife as well as helping with the Borneo tourism industry of which elephants are a large draw for the local economy.

In 2017, Zoo staff and crew from KPRC Channel 2 traveled to Borneo to meet with Farina, the team at the Danau Girang Field Centre and Hutan to see the projects the Houston Zoo supports firsthand. You can learn all about Farina’s work and how you are helping her to save elephants in the wild by watching the Borneo special! Here at home we continue to promote these partnerships at our McNair Asian Elephant Habitat, giving our community the opportunity to learn about our herd of elephants at the zoo, and their wild counterparts. You can help save elephants in the wild and support Farina’s work simply by visiting the Houston Zoo. When you see the elephants at the zoo, you help save them in the wild!