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Banteng: Borneo wild cattle faces threat to survival

Published on 19 March 2018|
2 min read

Buffalo are a common sight to see grazing in a nearby padang, but have you ever heard of banteng?

by Tommy Duncan, Carrybeans 

Critically endangered due to poaching and habitat loss

Commonly known as tembadau or Bornean banteng, these shy animals reside in the wild and are hard to find. They are wild cattle found in our state, and endangered due to poaching and loss of habitat. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the animal was first categorised as endangered in 1996.

Banteng / Credit: The Star Online

Why is the species in dangerous decline?

According to The Star, the Endangered Species Research has been studying the impact of poaching, deforestation and fragmentation on the animal. Danau Girang Field Centre (DGFC) Bornean banteng conservation officer Dr. Penny Gardner said banteng need a huge space to avoid disturbances. They also need a proper habitat to grow a herd size ideal for mating and reproduction.

Dr Gardner pointed out that forest boundaries have an impact, with herds getting smaller if they are closer to the boundary. All of these findings came from a study by DGFC, Cardiff University and Sabah Wildlife Department (SWD). The research team concluded this after 43,344 night camera traps and 832 banteng events across six reserves.

“What we found is that forest regeneration age, type of site, presence of salt licks, forest vegetation and distance between reserve sites and forest border has a huge effects on the herds.” – Dr Gardner

The conservation officer emphasised the need to find a solution that helps forest productivity, at the same time protecting the survival of this endangered species. Poachers hunt banteng for their meat.

A 10-year strategy is being mapped out

According to DGFC director and SWD adviser, Dr Benoit Goossens, this study will help the team plan for a suitable habitat for this wild animal. As there are reportedly only 400 banteng in the wild today, this plan is crucial.

Banteng in the wild / Credit: DGFC & SWD

Earlier this year, Dr Goosens mooted the idea of placing the wild cattle in oil palm plantations for breeding purposes. He was open to the idea as long as a proper habitat was arranged for the animal. The expert promotes the idea of captive breeding to boost population growth.

He claimed breeding banteng in captivity is doable and somewhat necessary compared to other native species. However, Dr Goosens reiterated that we need to protect and preserve our forests as well as stopping poaching activities. That way, most species would be able to survive and thrive,

Did you know of the banteng‘s existence in the wild, or were you surprised Sabah was home to this endangered animal? Let us know in the comments below!

Have you heard about the Telupid elephants that broke into one of the school canteen? Read all about it here!

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