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Data from: Sundaic elephants prefer habitats on the periphery of protected areas

Cite this dataset

de la Torre, J. Antonio et al. (2022). Data from: Sundaic elephants prefer habitats on the periphery of protected areas [Dataset]. Dryad.


1. Protected Areas (PAs) are a cornerstone of global conservation strategies. PAs, however, are not equally effective for all threatened taxa, and it is important to understand taxa-specific effectiveness of PAs networks.

2. In this study we evaluate the role of the PAs network on the protection of Asian elephants (Elephas maximus) and their habitats in Southeast Asia’s Sundaic region. Since Asian elephants tend to prefer secondary forests or forest gaps, we predicted that PAs would not represent the species' preferred habitats. We conducted the most comprehensive analysis of Asian elephant space and habitat use to date through home range estimations and Step Selection Function analyses using over 600,000 GPS locations from 102 different elephants from Peninsular Malaysia and Borneo.

3. Our results revealed important similarities in the habitat use of elephants in both regions, with both females and males in Peninsular Malaysia and Sabah preferring secondary forest, forest gaps, and areas of regrowth and new plantations.

4. Our results supported our prediction that PAs do not represent Asian elephants’ preferred habitats, since for most of the elephants, more than half of their ranges were outside PAs and the probability of selection values for both sexes in both geographical areas were lower inside than outside the PAs.

5. Synthesis and applications: Our analysis suggests that conservation strategies need to acknowledge that the long-term survival of Asian elephants in the Sundaic region relies on our capacity to promote human-elephant coexistence at the boundaries of PAs. We advocate that Asian elephant conservation strategies should be based on the following three key points: 1) large PAs with core areas where elephants can find safety and potentially survive in the long term; 2) promoting connectivity among PAs using a system of wildlife corridors; and 3) effective human-elephant conflict management outside PAs.


Core and home range areas shapefiles

Shapefiles of core and home range areas of Asian elephants estimated using the Kernel Density Estimator at 95% and 50% of the utilization distribution.



Probability of selection raster maps

Raster maps of probability of selection obtained using Step Selection Functions models for female and male elephants of Peninsular Malaysia and Borneo.



Spatial covariates

Compiled and processed environmental variables used to evaluate the habitat use by the elephants in Peninsular Malaysia and Sabah, which includes variables associated with the land use (e.g., proportion of primary forest) and distance to forest and plantations (oil palm and rubber) boundaries, as well as terrain covariates (elevation and slope).



Protected Areas shapefiles

Shapefiles of Protected Areas included within the Managed Elephants Ranges of Peninsular Malaysia and Borneo, which were obtained from the World Database of Protected Areas ( These files are not included along this dataset, but instructions for their download and treatement are described in the README file of this dataset.

Usage notes

This data set should be open using a Geographic Information System software such as ArcMap or QGIS.