Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Pygmy Elephants Get Protection Boost from Genetics

To help protect a diminutive elephant researchers are taking an innovative look at the pachyderm's genome.

The goal is to understand the genetic diversity of pygmy elephants on the island of Borneo. Numbering about 2,000, these babyish-looking elephants are the most endangered subspecies of Asian elephant. They live primarily in the Malaysian state of Sabah on Borneo, where they are threatened by the loss and fragmentation of their forest, often by development associated with palm oil, widely used, edible plant oil.

"We are interested in looking at the diversity of elephants around the whole distribution range in Sabah," said study researcher Reeta Sharma, a postdoctoral fellow at the Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência (IGC) in Portugal.

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