Saving the Pygmy Elephant

Pygmy elesig-2

We cruised by boat through the Sabah, in the Northeast corner of the Borneo rain forest viewing white hornbills and macaques in the cathedral of tangled green. Between tightly packed trees and vines, a patch of gray appeared, then an elephant’s trunk. Deep rumbles
reverberated through the vegetation as branches broke and a trumpet announced pygmy elephants. A mom led her baby to the river for a drinK. Mom lifted water into her mouth with her trunk, darkening it with a water line. But the calf didn’t how to
use the thousands of muscles in his trunk, so he knelt in the grass and drank with his mouth.

Small for elephants, even the adults have a babyish look with their larger ears and heads and more rotund bodies. As their home is being cleared for palm plantations, the elephants are trapped in a small sliver of forest between the Kinabatangan River bank and the
plantations. Although the Sabah’s wildlife department has been managing conflicts when the elephants fell trees on the plantation and workers have been burning tires to scare them away, their population has decreased by 50% in the last three generations.

Animals need large areas of interconnected forest and cannot survive without places to raise young, find food, and shelter. Trees hold heat in at night and block the sun during the day. Without a
canopy of trees, soil dries out creating droughts. Without trees to turn water vapor back to air, forests become barren deserts. Without forests, extreme swings in temperature kill plants and animals. Trees play critical role in absorbing greenhouse gases that fuel
global warming. Maintaining forests protects our water supply and moderates droughts. Forests create ecological stability of the lowlands, but government officials turn a blind eye toward corporations who enrich them.

Palm Oil, destroying the lungs of the Earth, is found in processed food like Oreo cookies, potato chips, shampoo, toothpaste, margarine, and chocolate bars. Trees with palm oil can be planted in a responsible way, leaving forests for animals but it’s not as profitable
as burning large areas all at once.

Everything we buy is a vote for what kind of world we want. Consumer power enables us to reward corporations who protect forests and the home of pygmy elephants, orangutans and clouded leopards and to bankrupt those who rape the earth for corporate profit.