Bos javanicus (Banteng, Tembadau)

bantingdiet, wiightloss


The world population of Banteng is likely to be approximately 8,000 individuals of which approximately 4,600 occur in a single subpopulation in eastern Cambodia (Gray

et al

. 2012. 2016). Outside eastern Cambodia only 6-8 subpopulations of more than 50 animals, are known, with 4–5 on Java, 1–2 in Thailand (S. Hedges pers. comm. 2000, Pudyatmoko 2004), and possibly one in Sabah (P. Gardner pers. comm. 2013). A once fairly widely distributed species, it is now largely reduced to small isolated populations, most of which are still in decline.

In Cambodia, Banteng probably declined by 90% or more between the late 1960s and the early 1990s. At this latter time it still remained widespread, although in generally low numbers, in the lowland forests of the north and east, and also, probably somewhat more sporadically, in the south and west including the Cardamom Mountain range (Heng Kimchhay

et al

. 1998, Daltry and Momberg 2000, Timmins and Ou 2001, R. J. Timmins pers. comm. 2008). From at least this time onwards the most substantial Banteng population has been centred on Mondulkiri province where in the late 1990s it was at the time thought that at least several hundred to a perhaps over a thousand Banteng survived in a forested landscape of over 15,000 km² (Timmins and Ou 2001, Tordoff

et al

. 2005, R. J. Timmins pers. comm. 2008). This was clearly a considerable underestimate as recent systematic surveys have estimated the population to be much larger (see below). Further declines took place from the early 1990s to the mid 2000s, with quite probably more than a 50% decline in this time period for the nation as a whole, and the resultant loss of Banteng populations from significant parts of the still forested landscape (Timmins and Ou 2001, Timmins

et al

. 2003, Timmins 2006, Bezuijen

et al

. 2008, R. J. Timmins pers. comm. 2008). Intensive distance-based line transects conducted between 2009 and 2011 across 3,400 km² of the core areas of Mondulkiri Protected Forest and Phnom Prich Wildlife Sanctuary estimated a Banteng population of 3,200 individuals (95% CI range 1,980-5,170)


et al

. 2012)

. This was higher than previously believed; the 2008 IUCN Red List assessment suggesting no subpopulation globally exceeded 500 individuals (Timmins

et al

. 2008). Repeat surveys during the 2013/14 dry-season of the cores of Mondulkiri Protected Forest and Phnom Prich Wildlife Sanctuary suggested the Banteng population in these areas was stable in comparison with 2009/2011 data: between 600 and 1,600 individuals in the core of Mondulkiri Protected Forest (analogous to Mondulkiri Protected Forest inner core in Gray

et al

. 2012) and 830 – 3,200 in the core of Phnom Prich Wildlife Sanctuary (T.N.E. Gray pers. comm. 2016). Given the presence in the adjacent Seima Protection Forest (500 individuals based on 2014 line-transect density estimates; M. Maltby in litt. 2015) and outside the core of Mondulkiri Protected Forest the landscape population is probably around 4,600 individuals. However accelerating threats (particularly habitat loss and hunting; see Threats) mean this population is likely to be experiencing an ongoing decline having possibly recovered during the early 2000s following the initiation of law enforcement activities (T. Gray in litt. 2016). Elsewhere in Cambodia clearance and fragmentation of the once vast lowland forests has accelerated in the last half decade, largely due to the development of agro-industry concessions, as well as the proliferation of piecemeal small-holder farms and other land claims, and this has probably lead to extirpation (due to hunting) from a significant part of the species’ former Cambodian range.

The other present-day stronghold of Banteng is Java, where six large subpopulations (those with more than 50 animals) occurred in 1990, but these declined to only 4–5 by 2004 (Pudyatmoko 2004). Pudyatmoko (2004) estimated: Ujung Kulon National Park (300–800 individuals in 2003), Cikepuh-Cibanteng Nature Reserve (25–65 individuals in 2003), Bonjonglarang-Jayanti Region (a small stable population of unknown size in 1988, with no recent data available), Cimapag Region (occurrence recorded until 1970, with current status unknown), Leuweng Sancang Nature Reserve (10 individuals in 2000, extinct in 2003), Cikamurang Region (occurrence recorded until 1970, with current status unknown), Pangandaran Nature Reserve (25–65 individuals in 2003), Kediri Region (occurrence recorded until 1970, with current status unknown), Coast of Blitar (10 individuals in 1988, with current status unknown), Coast of Malang (six individuals in 1988, with current status unknown), Meru Betiri National Park (200 individuals in 2000, with at least 57 individuals in 2002), Alas Purwo National Park (with at least 80 individuals in 2002), and Baluran National Park (around 206 individuals in 2002). Numbers in all areas are declining (Hedges and Tyson 1996, S. Hedges unpub. data. 1991–2002, Pudyatmoko 2004).

Population numbers and even trends are difficult to quantify for the island of Borneo but there have been declines, especially in Kalimantan (S. Pudyatmoko pers. comm. 2006, G. Semiadi pers. comm. 2006), and in Sabah (P. Gardner pers. comm. 2013). The Bornean population is thought to have been particularly negatively affected by interbreeding with domestic and/or feral oxen of types other than pure-bred ‘Bali Cattle’.

Up until at least the early twentieth Century, Banteng was still found throughout what is now Kalimantan (Indonesian Borneo), albeit disappearing in some areas (in particular, in South Kalimantan) (Gardner

et al

. unpubl. data).

By the early 2000s

, Banteng was thought to be widespread but rare in East Kalimantan, on the basis of recent (mid- and late-1990s) reports from many areas, including Kayan Mentarang National Park (NP), and within or close to Hutan Kapur Sangkulirang (an unprotected area that has been proposed for protection since the early 1980s) (Hedges and Meijaard 1999, E. Meijaard unpubl. data).

Banteng persists in East Kalimantan in Kutai National Park; camera trap images confirmed breeding (a female calf approximately 4-5 months old and a bull approx. 3-4 years old) however the population size is thought to be very small, given the lack of recent observations compared with survey effort (S. Cheyne pers. comm. 2013). The species might also persist in

Hutan Kapur Sangkulirang Nature Reserve

Banteng also occurs along the border with Sarawak in East Kalimantan in Kayan Mentarang (E. Meijaard pers. comm. 2013); in 1999 observations were made of a solitary young bull and a small herd of four individuals (including cows), in addition to tracks and dung signs

(Hedges and Meijaard 1999)

. There are concerns over the genetic integrity of Banteng in this area because of the presence of domestic cattle, abandoned in 1979 by villagers, which might have interbred with the wild Banteng

(Hedges and Meijaard 1999)


In Sarawak (Malaysian Borneo) Banteng was probably largely restricted to the alluvial plains of the coastal belt (Wharton 1968). Low (1848, cited by Wharton 1968) reported that the Banteng in Sarawak lived chiefly in the bamboo forests along the Sangow and Baram Rivers, where according to Banks (1931) domestic Banteng was kept by the Kalabit people (thus raising the possibility that the Banteng populations in Sarawak and neighbouring parts of Kalimantan may be partly feral in origin, or contain hybrid animals) (P. Gardner

et al

. unpubl. data). Beccari (1904) indicated that the species was not scarce but kept mainly to areas of secondary growth in the interior. Banks (1931) reported that Banteng did not occur south of the Baleh River (a tributary of the Rejang River) in Sarawak, and was found in the headwaters of most rivers to the north of this. He further mentioned the Niah District where Banteng was relatively common, Merapok in the Lawas district, Ulu Trusan, Limbang, various places in the Baram, above Tubau in the Ulu Bintulu, at Belaga and down to the head of the Pelagus rapids, but not into the neighbouring Mukah and Oya Rivers. In the 1950s, Banteng was still common around the Niah Caves but ‘this is one of the few places where it is so in Borneo today’ (Harrisson 1961), and by 1967 few Bantengs were thought to be left in Sarawak (Anderson, pers. comm. to Wharton 1968). In the early 1980s, Banteng apparently persisted in the more remote parts of north and east Sarawak (Aken and Kavanagh 1982), but Payne

et al

. (1985) stated that there had been no recent reports [although Labang (1987 cited by Caldecott, 1988) reportedly found evidence of their continued presence]. However, few, if any Bantengs persist in Sarawak as of 2016, although they may cross into Sarawak from neighbouring Kalimantan, where they were known to occur in the large Kayan Mentarang NP at least until the late 1990s (Hedges and Meijaard 1999).

The population in Sabah (Malaysian Borneo) is in decline primarily because of continual loss of habitat, human disturbance causing displacement, and rampant hunting (P. Gardner pers. obs). Quantifying accurate population sizes are problematic and continue to be confounded by a range of issues including the inhospitable habitat, the shy nature of the species, and detection and quantification of the species. Prior to the 1940s, Banteng was reported to be common in riverine areas in the east, and in many areas of shifting cultivation. However, the subsequent widespread use of firearms led to the species’s rapid extermination from most areas. In 1982, it was reported to be locally common in logged forest on flat terrain, but under threat as its habitat was converted into permanent agricultural land (Davies and Payne 1982).

The state-wide population estimate in 1982 was 300-550 individuals

(Davies and Payne 1982)

but this was based on community surveys in accessible locations and did not include all Banteng populations. The biggest population decline occurred during the intensive and extensive timber operation and transformation of lowland forests large-scale plantations (palm oil, cocoa and other crops) late in the twentieth century (Ahmad AH pers. comm. 2008). During this period (years 1970-2000) of intensification, the decline in Banteng was thought to be over 50% in Sabah and Borneo as a whole (B. Giman pers. comm. 2008). In 1990, Banteng still occurred south of Gunung Lumaku (in the upper reaches of the Padas River) but it had been extirpated from all other parts of south-western Sabah according to local people (Payne 1990).

Since this time, new road infrastructure has opened up the interior of Sabah and vast land-use changes continue to remove much of the natural forest habitat. Encroachment and hunting has undoubtedly increased over the past four decades as a result of habitat conversion and extensive networks of logging roads. Some populations are known to have been eradicated in the past three decades, and the current population size is very likely to be less than 350 individuals. Introgression with domestic cattle has not been observed in five forests containing Banteng, surveyed over the past three years, although reports suggested domestic cattle were abandoned at logging camps and interbred with wild Banteng in Dermakot Forest Reserve. The potential for disease transmission from domestic livestock is unquestionable as Banteng is found in close proximity to water buffalo and cows in forest habitat located adjacent to plantations and private land. As of 2016, rampant hunting continues to deplete remnant populations (P. Gardner pers. obs). The security of Banteng is further compromised in locations where the animals move between protected forest and timber plantations, privately-owned forest and grassland to search for forage (P. Gardner pers. obs). In one area, Bantengs are encouraged into privately owned grassland managed for recreational sport hunting (P. Gardner pers. obs). Otherwise, populations in Sabah are now confined to remote forest and swamp habitat which are highly fragmented; the prevention of gene-flow between fragmented populations may compromise the genetic-integrity of future generations. Timber plantations are not considered to be a main habitat of Banteng due to the temporary status of the forest and the regular eradication of the vegetation which forces the Banteng into nearby natural forest. Between 2009 and 2015, remnant subpopulations were confirmed on the east coast in Kulamba Wildlife Reserve, and Tabin Wildlife Reserve (approximately 52 individuals). In the central and southern reserves including Dermakot Forest Reserve, Tangkulap Forest Reserve, Segaluid Forest Reserve, Malua Forest Reserve (approximately 35 individuals), Ulu-Segama Malua Forest Reserve, Danum Valley Conservation Area, and Maliau Basin Conservation Area [over 10 individuals]

(Melletti and Burton 2014)

. On the south west coast there is a small population (size unknown) in Sipitang Forest Reserve, and Banteng was recently confirmed as present in Sapulut Forest Reserve. Unconfirmed populations may also persist on the west, north and north-east coast of Sabah. Subpopulations thought to have gone extinct since


include herds in the Dent peninsular, Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary and Kinabatangan district, Beaufort district, Keningau district, and Kudat and Murudu Bay. At least four populations successfully bred in years 2009-2013 (P. Gardner pers. obs) but during this time, hunting simultaneously removed mature individuals.

In Thailand, the only subpopulations with more than 50 animals are Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary and perhaps Kaeng Krachan National Park. In Kaeng Krachan National Park the density of Banteng is thought to be low; the situation has not significantly improved and there is no obvious hope for recovery of the population (A. Pattanavibool pers. comm. 2013). Smaller numbers do or may persist in Mae Ping National Park, Phu Luang Wildlife Sanctuary, Thap Lan National Park, Khao Ang Ruenai Wildlife Sanctuary, Khao Soi Dao Wildlife Sanctuary, Khao Sok National Park, Kui Buri National Park (approx. 3 individuals remain) and Pang Sida National Park (signs of a small herd) (R. Steinmetz pers. comm. 2013). Banteng are also found in the Western Forest Complex but continue to face serious fragmentation and poaching for meat and parts (A. Pattanavibool pers. comm. 2013). Recovery of this population is still considered very limited and is only applicable to areas where habitat remains and where there is good protection (A. Pattanavibool pers. comm. 2013). Banteng range probably declined by approximately 85% in Thailand from 1980 to 2000 (S. Hedges pers. comm. 2000). The Banteng population in Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary (one of few >50) did not increase during years 2006-2008 (per R. Steinmetz pers. comm. 2008) however it persists as of 2013

Numbers in Lao PDR are now likely to be very low (Duckworth and Hedges 1998, Duckworth

et al

. 1999, R. J. Timmins pers. comm. 2008, T. Gray pers. comm. 2013). Evidence of Banteng was found for a number of areas in the 1990s (Duckworth and Hedges 1998, Duckworth

et al

. 1999, Steinmetz 2004), but there has been very little survey effort since 1998. Confirmation of presence after the mid-1990s, when populations were in steep decline (Duckworth and Hedges 1998), is lacking. Most areas have received little if any protection: so it is quite likely that Banteng has been hunted out from several, perhaps most, conceivably all, of them (R.J. Timmins pers. comm. 2008). The most likely areas for continued presence are in the southern half of the country; it is possible that no populations greater than 10 individuals remain (T. Gray pers. comm. 2013), and populations of conservation significance are only conceivable in perhaps two to three areas, two of which lie along the international border with Cambodia (R. Steinmetz pers. comm. 2008). A similar scenario is likely in Viet Nam, although persistence is more likely (R. Steinmetz pers. comm. 2008). Pedrono

et al



estimated the overall population, in five contiguous

areas in the Eastern Highlands, as between 74 and 103 individuals; the largest populations were in Yok Don National Park (30-44 individuals) and Ea So Nature Reserve (23-31 individuals). Reports however suggest that management conditions and illegal activities may have led to declines in the relatively high profile Yok Don NP, leaving in question the status of the species in lower profile areas (R. Steinmetz pers. comm. 2008).

Little recent information has been traced from Myanmar: a national camera-trapping survey aimed at the Tiger

Panthera tigris

, which will not necessarily have covered all, or even the best, areas for Banteng, recorded it in and around Alaungdaw Kathapa National Park, Mahamyaing Reserve Forest, and the central Bago (Pegu) Yoma (Lynam 2003). Current numbers are unknown but are sure to be declining, given general trends in ungulates in better-studied parts of the country. There are no quantitative data available on numbers remaining in China, but there are, if any, at most very few.

A domesticated form of Banteng, often called ‘Bali Cattle’, and considered to be the same species (contrasting with general taxonomic treatment for several other oxen) occurs widely in Indonesia and has been introduced to other areas of the world. However, few if any populations of this form are now likely to be pure-bred, because of interbreeding with domestic oxen derived from other


species (Bradshaw

et al

. 2006). One population of approximately 6,000 animals, which appears now to be superficially indistinguishable from wild Banteng, thrives in Garig Gunak Barlu National Park, on the Cobourg Peninsula in Northern Territory, Australia. These animals derive from approximately 20 domesticated ‘Banteng’ taken from Denpasar, Bali in 1849, and they have recently been shown to be genetically indistinguishable from wild Banteng, at least to the extent of the molecular sequences analysed. This suggests that they have not been cross-bred previously to any significant extent with other domestic cattle (Bradshaw

et al

. 2006). Some domestic oxen lineages in mainland South-east Asia, for instance in Cambodia, may have at least partial Banteng ancestry (e.g. Timmins and Ou 2001).

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