The movement ecology and behaviour of the Bornean elephant in the highly fragmented habitat of the Lower Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary, Sabah, Malaysia, Borneo


PhD Researcher: Nurzhafarina Othman

Institution: Cardiff University

Supervisors: Benoît Goossens and Rob Thomas

Status: Completed


The Bornean elephant is one of the four recognised 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 explored the movement ecology of the Bornean elephants in the highly fragmented habitat of the Lower Kinabatangan Floodplain. The goal was to assist the management and conservation of Bornean elephants based on rigorous scientific findings.

Research Objectives

  1. To analyse the utilisation 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 the activity budget of elephants in riparian habitats 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 account for temporal autocorrelation and high data volumes. The significance of this approach was the ability to distinguish between different behaviour types rather than assuming migration along an entire path. Therefore, it allowed us to see the linking between movement and behaviour of animals to their environment.

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

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

Bornean Elephant ©Rudi Delvau