Tiny Elephant


There are few really compelling stories in nature that haven’t yet been told… but this is one of them. This magical and heart-warming conservation film takes us deep into the personal life story of the most adorable but mysterious elephants on the planet, the Bornean Pygmy Elephant. Set in one of the most biodiverse countries on Earth, we follow a newborn calf through her first year of life. Through her eyes we see the impact of habitat loss, but also how conservation can change the course of extinction and bring real hope for the future.

‘Buana’ (meaning ‘Earth’) is the smallest, rarest, most intelligent elephant in the world, but one of the least studied on the planet. There are now fewer than 1500 left, and very little has been known about their lives … until now.

In this drama-filled, emotional film we will see first-hand the problems of habitat loss and the danger it brings of human-animal conflict. Working closely with a local Bornean team of scientists and researchers we’ll discover how these extraordinary elephants survive, their unique characteristics and how they tackle the challenges of a changing world.

With her forest home swallowed up by palm oil plantations and human homes, Buana will be our guide as she embarks on the most important walk of her life along a newly restored ancient migration route, in a journey that will decide the future of not just her but an entire species.
Buana’s home is the rainforest of the Kinabatangan. Considered to be the Amazon of Asia, a once huge, biodiverse paradise is still home to spectacular animals, such as proboscis monkeys, orangutans, clouded leopards, hornbills, sun bears, huge crocodiles, and some of Malaysia’s last remaining elephants. But now just over half remains, the rest replaced by cash crops including palm oil.

But positive change is coming. Thanks to the tireless wok of local conservationists and wildlife-friendly plantation owners, new wildlife corridors have been opened up and old migration routes have become safer. We will follow Buana’s journey starting in the swampy mangroves of her birthplace in the lowlands, as she embarks on her first migration up the Kinabatangan river, learning the ways of the rainforest and how to navigate an ever-changing and fragmented habitat, all the while absorbing a memory map passed from generation to generation.

From meeting the other inhabitants of the forest, to learning to swim in her first river crossing, to raiding a palm oil plantation as it’s being bulldozed, and tip-toeing through a village in the dead of night, there will be moments of drama, emotion and humour as Buana learns lessons for life from her extended family, and navigates her future.

Buana’s personal story reveals what habitat loss really means for the individual animals who have to live it, and the real impact positive conservation can have, giving us all hope for a better future on our shared planet.