Food preference of the bornean elephant (Elephas maximus borneensis) in North Kalimantan Province, Indonesia, and its conservation implications

Rachmat B. Suba (Corresponding author), Nils G.P. Beveridge, Wawan Kustiawan, Geert R. de Snoo, Hans H. de Iongh, Sip E. van Wieren, Young Hae Choi, Hye Kyong Kim

Research output: Contribution to journal/periodicalArticleScientificpeer-review

Abstract

The preference to feed on particular plant species may reflect the most desirable components that an animal perceives, in relation to what is available. The food preference of the Bornean elephant (Elephas maximus borneensis Deraniyagala, 1950) in the Sebuku area of North Kalimantan was studied by chemical analysis on the metabolites of several known food plant species. We analysed the chemical properties of the Bornean elephant diet from thirteen food-plant species which represented the level of food-plant categories utilised by the Bornean elephant in the study area. All samples were analysed for nutritional value, and their metabolic profiles were obtained using 1 H nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy. These data were subjected to multivariate data analyses to identify the common components. This study confirmed that Bornean elephants tend to follow a strategy to maximise their energy intake by selecting food items rich in sugar and crude protein and minimise fibrous elements. The fact that they also prefer food items with high glutamate suggests that taste plays a role and this element may be a cue for the Bornean elephant to assist in foraging and searching for palatable food.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)791-802
Number of pages12
JournalRaffles Bulletin of Zoology
Volume68
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2020
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Bornean elephant
  • Cue
  • Glutamate
  • Nuclear magnetic resonance
  • Nutritional value
  • Plant preference

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