The Movement Ecology and Behaviour of the Bornean elephant in the Highly Fragmented Habitat of the Lower Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary, Sabah, Malaysia, Borneo

Project Description

PhD Candidate: Nurzhafarina Othman

Institution: Cardiff University

Supervisors: Benoît Goossens and Rob Thomas

Duration: Completed


Recent Publications:
Behaviour and Spatial Ecology of the Bornean elephant (Elephas maximus borneensis) in Lower Kinabatangan, Sabah, Malaysia Borneo.

The Bornean elephant is one of the four recognized Asian elephant subspecies. They are genetically different to all other Asian elephants with some differences in morphology and behaviour. Having the distribution range of this subspecies will help with their management in the state, and therefore will determine its future. This project explores the movement ecology of the Bornean elephants in the highly fragmented habitat of the Lower Kinabatangan Floodplain. The goal is to assist the management and conservation of Bornean elephant based on rigorous scientific findings.

Research Objectives:

  1. To analyse the utilization distribution of elephants in Lower Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary (LKWS).
  2. To identify elephant habitat preference and its determinants.
  3. To identify functional corridors for elephants in LKWS.
  4. To quantify activity budget of elephants in riparian habitat in LKWS.


We used the dynamic Brownian bridge movement model (dBBMM) to quantify a probability of habitat use based on its movement path rather than individual points and accounts for temporal autocorrelation and high data volumes. The significance of this approach is the ability to distinguish between different behaviour types rather than assuming migration along an entire path. Therefore, it will allow us to see the linking between movement and behaviour of animals to their environment.

To quantify the functional corridors, we will apply spatial graph as analytical tools to study the effects of landscape fragmentation on elephant movement and persistence