Wild population numbers are divided into: (1. Malaysia (Peninsular): 1450, 2. Borneo: 2435)
Hundreds have been removed to national parks since the 1970s, to stop raids on plantations as jungles were cleared. Translocation has ensured healthy elephant populations.
Malaysia also has a new (2003) subspecies of Asian elephant, officially named as Borneo pygmy elephant, (Elephas maximus borneensis), estimated to be less than 1,500, most of them living in Sabah.
2008: population was 1,250-1,466 Peninsula and 1,100-1,600 Borneo (Sukumar 2008)
2011: Malaysia has about 3885 (min. 2423, max. 5347) wild elephants. Source:Malaysia (Peninsular): Saaban et al. (2011), Borneo: Alfred et al. (2011). Malaysia put into place the Management & Ecology of Malaysian Elephants (MEME) project in 2011 to further study and collect data on the country’s wild elephant populations with the end goal of developing evidence-based approaches to HEC.
2020: It is estimated that there are less than 3000 individual elephants left in Peninsular Malaysia including the endangered Borneo Pygmy elephants found in Sabah.
Human-elephant conflict (HEC)
Data revealed that elephants in Peninsular Malaysia have lost 68% percent of their natural range to human encroachment in the last 40 years.
In the remaining 32% of space that they occupy, elephants are said to be living very close to human settlements, and often enough resulting in HEC in around 60% of these areas.
Elephant ownership in Malaysia is regulated by the Act 716 (which replaced Act 76). Before Act 76 was implemented (in 1972), there was no proper registration of captive elephants.
In 1960, only two captive elephants were recorded in Malaya (Harrison 1960). This trend has reversed since the creation of EMU and the number of captive elephants increased to 20 in the mid-nineties (Daim 1995), and to as many as 62 in 2011.