Banteng (Bos javanicus)
The species historically occurred from southern China (Yunnan)
throughout mainland Southeast Asia, through Peninsular Malaysia to the islands
of Borneo, Java, and probably Bali (see below).
No fossil evidence is known from Bali, and Grubb (2005) stated that Banteng was introduced to the island; Corbet and Hill (1992) did not include Bali in the range of wild Banteng and various other sources simply state that it occurs as domestic animals. Nevertheless, it does not seem unreasonable to suggest that Banteng should be included among the native fauna of Bali since several Indo-Malayan animal species are known to have penetrated eastwards as far as Flores and Timor during times of lowered sea-levels in the Pleistocene (Hooijer 1975). Ashby and Santiapillai (1988) treated the small number of free-living Banteng's which in occur in west Bali as wild animals as did Watling (1991); although Watling noted that interbreeding with domestic Bali cattle is a problem and the population is unlikely to consist solely of pure-bred animals. Wind and Amir (1977) had earlier raised similar fears. Domestic Banteng has been introduced to several of the islands of eastern Indonesia including Sulawesi, Sumbawa, and Sumba (Van der Maarel 1932; Rollinson 1984). Feral Banteng occur in Kalimantan (National Research Council 1983). Introduced Banteng (probably feral animals) occurs on the Indonesian islands of Enggano (off Sumatra) and Sangihe (off Sulawesi) (Corbet and Hill 1992; Grubb 2005). Domestic Banteng has also been introduced to New Guinea and Australia and there are now large feral herds in the Northern Territory (Kirby 1979; Bowman 1993; Bradshaw et al. 2006).
Wild Banteng currently occurs on Java and possibly Bali, in Kalimantan [Indonesian Borneo], Sabah [part of Malaysian Borneo], Myanmar, Thailand, Lao PDR, Vietnam, and Cambodia. A few may remain in Sarawak [Malaysian Borneo] (D. Labang, cited in Caldecott 1988) but it is thought to be extinct in Brunei (Payne et al. 1985). Banteng is extinct in Bangladesh (Gittins and Akonda 1982; Md Anwarul Islam in litt. 2008), and in India (Prater 1971; IUCN 1978), if it ever occurred there: Groves (2003) stated that “there have been constant reports from Manipur, but there is as yet no confirmation”. In West Malaysia it has probably been extinct since at least the 1950s (Hislop 1961). Medway (1983) thought that Banteng may have still occurred in parts of Kedah and Kelantan after that time, but there have been no recent records. In China, Banteng has been reported to occur in one area of southeast Yunnan around Tongbiguan Nature Reserve, along the border with Myanmar; however, the source for this is unclear; and presence in China should be considered tentative at best.
In Cambodia the species is still likely to be widespread in the northern and eastern forests and as well as parts of the Cardamoms Mountain range, with the bulk of the population remaining in the eastern forests, centred on Mondulkiri Province (see Population). On Borneo, the species occurs in parts of eastern Sabah (Malaysia), including Tabin Wildlife Reserve, and in Kalimantan (Indonesia), it occurs along the border with Sarawak (Malaysia), as well as in the south central region and two isolates in the eastern parts of the province (in and around Kutai National Park and Hutan Kapur Sangkulirang Nature Reserve). Distribution is other countries is detailed under Population.
Cambodia; Indonesia (Bali, Jawa, Kalimantan); Lao People's Democratic Republic; Malaysia (Peninsular Malaysia - Regionally Extinct, Sabah); Myanmar; Thailand; Vietnam
Bangladesh; Brunei Darussalam; India
The world population of Banteng is unlikely to be more than
8,000 and is quite possibly fewer than 5,000 animals. No subpopulations of more
than 500, and only 6–8 subpopulations of more than 50 animals, are known, with
4–5 on Java and 1–2 in Thailand (S. Hedges pers. comm. 2000; Pudyatmoko 2004). 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 they 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 (Daltry and Momberg 2000; Heng Kimchhay et al. 1998; 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 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). Further declines took place from the early 1990s to the present, with quite probably more than a 50% decline in this time period, 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. in prep.; R. J. Timmins pers. comm. 2008). As of 2007 the most significant population by far in Cambodia remained that in Mondulkiri Province, still thought to be hundreds of animals (WCS unpublished data; WWF unpublished data; R. J. Timmins pers. comm. 2008). Protection efforts in parts of this landscape have probably stabilised declines locally, although for the area as a whole the trend is still likely to be a significant decrease (WCS unpublished data; WWF unpublished data; T. Clements pers. comm. 2007; T.D. Evans pers. comm. 2007; R. J. Timmins pers. comm. 2008).
The Banteng’s other present-day stronghold 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 (6 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). Number 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 Borneo but there have been declines, especially in Kalimantan (S. Pudyatmoko pers. comm. 2006; G. Semiadi pers. comm. 2006), and in Sabah (Han pers. comm.). 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’. Banteng occurs in Kutai National Park and Hutan Kapur Sangkulirang Nature Reserve, Kalimantan (Indonesia). A small population was reported from Belantikan Hulu in Central Kalimantan in November 2007 (tracks found) and April 2008 (local reports of capture of cow and calf); the population is believed to be small (Togu Simorangkir, Chair of Yayorin pers. comm. 2008). Populations in Sabah are now confined in protected areas scattered mostly in the east coast of the state. Current reports include the Tabin Wildlife Reserve, Kulamba Wildlife Reserve, Danum Valley Conservation, Ulu Kalumpang Forest Reserve, Ulu Segama-Malua Forest Reserve, Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary, and Deramakot Forest Reserve. Over 100 individuals live in Kulamba Wildlife Reserve, and the state-wide gross estimation of the population size is 300–500 individuals. However, this is only based on presence–non-detection surveys and the figure should be regarded as a crude approximation (Ahmad AH pers. comm. 2008). The biggest decline happened 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). The declines are over 50% in Sabah and Borneo as a whole (Belden Giman pers. comm.).
In Thailand, the only subpopulations with more than 50 animals are Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary and perhaps Kaeng Krachan National Park; smaller numbers do or may persist in Mae Ping National Park, Phu Luang Wildlife Sanctuary, Thap Lan National Park, Khwo Ang Ru Nai Wildlife Sanctuary, Khao Soi Dao Wildlife Sanctuary, and Khao Sok National Park. 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 is reported to have increased over the past 10 years (per R. Steinmetz pers. comm. 2008).
Numbers in Lao PDR are now likely to be very low, with probably no area supporting more than 50 animals (Duckworth and Hedges 1998; Duckworth et al. 1999; R. J. Timmins pers. comm. 2008). 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. A similar scenario is likely in Viet Nam, with little recent evidence of continued presence in most areas (M. Pedrono pers. comm. 2008), and perhaps only one region (the Yok Don National Park area along the Cambodian border) has a population that might exceed 50 animals; current presence is also possible elsewhere in the western border areas from Kontum Province to Dak Lak Province and in Krong Trai Nature Reserve, Rung Kho Phan Rang Nature Reserve, and Cat Tien National Park (Duckworth and Hedges 1998; Eames et al. 2004; Tordoff et al. 2005; M. Pedrono pers. comm. 2008; R. J. Timmins pers. comm. 2008). Little recent information has been traced from Myanmar: a national camera-trapping survey aimed at 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 remaining populations in China (Smith and Xie Yan 2008), but these are clearly small.
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, due to interbreeding with domestic oxen derived from other Bos species (Bradshaw et al. 2006). One population of approximately 6000 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 identical to 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 Southeast Asia, for instance in Cambodia, may have at least partial Banteng ancestry (e.g. Timmins and Ou 2001).
Population Trend: Decreasing
Habitat and Ecology:
Wharton (1968) summarized information about Banteng habitat
from throughout its range and he concluded that on the Asian mainland it avoids
evergreen rainforest and is usually within more open dry deciduous forests; but
within the more humid areas of Java and Borneo it occupies secondary forest
formations resulting from logging and fires, and enters tracts of sub-humid
forest on occasion. However, on mainland Southeast Asia, human use of these
preferred areas has increased, may have forced surviving Banteng to retreat to
relatively closed formations where consequently they now overlap more with Gaur
Bos gaurus; although good evidence for such an assertion is lacking. In Myanmar,
Banteng is reported to prefer flat or undulating terrain with light deciduous
(particularly indaing forest) or mixed deciduous and evergreen forest, with
grassy glades which burn annually, and patches of bamboo; but it has retreated
to denser hill forest in the face of advancing cultivation (Peacock 1933;
Wharton 1968; Tun Yin 1967; Prater 1971). Similarly in Thailand,
Cambodia, Vietnam, and Lao PDR Banteng occurred) in open mainly deciduous forest
with glades, parklands, and dense forest patches; and ‘it is claimed by some
that they prefer rocky, slightly hilly country, but they are certainly at home
wherever the Kouprey [Bos sauveli] is found. Their range in Cambodia [and
elsewhere in South-east Asia] suggests that Banting [sic] are more adaptable
than Kouprey and perhaps less exacting in their habitat requirements’ (Wharton
1957: 46; Wharton 1968). Recently the attachment to open, more deciduous forest
types was reported in Xe Pian National Protected Area, Lao PDR (Steinmetz 2004).
In Borneo Banteng is ‘locally common in logged forest on flatland...[and occur]
in dipterocarp, swamp and beach forests’ particularly along river courses (Payne
et al. 1985). In Java Banteng occurs in semi-deciduous monsoon forest with small
clearings, more open grassland-monsoon forest mosaics, and ‘parkland’ formations
(Halder 1976; Hommel 1987; S. Hedges pers. comm., based on unpubl. data
Banteng generally occurs from sea level up to at least 2,100 m asl (Hoogerwerf 1970; National Research Council 1983; Pudyatmoko 2004; S. Hedges pers. comm. 2008 base on unpubl. data 1991–2002).
Banteng reportedly drinks large quantities of water and prefers feeding grounds near a permanent water supply (Hoogerwerf 1970). When conditions are favourable it drinks daily, preferring standing water; but during droughts animals can survive several days without drinking (National Research Council 1983). Mineral licks are also an important feature of Banteng habitat; in coastal regions which lack mineral licks animals seem to meet their mineral requirements by occasionally drinking seawater (Halder 1976; Payne et al. 1985; Alikodra 1987; S. Hedges pers. obs.).
Although probably a grazer by preference Banteng should perhaps be considered an intermediate feeder since it can and does consume a lot of browse and fruits depending on season and local food availability. It eats grasses, sedges, herbs, bamboo, as well as the leaves, fruits, flowers, bark, and young branches of woody shrubs and trees including palms. The young shoots of alang-alang grass (Imperata cylindrical) are apparently a favoured food source (Hoogerwerf 1970). Lists of food plants are provided by Wharton (1957), Hoogerwerf (1970), Halder (1976), Sumardja and Kartawinata (1977), Djaja et al. (1982), Alikodra (1983), Prayurasiddhi and Smith (1993), and Hedges (in prep.). However, very little is known about the Banteng’s nutritional requirements, seasonal and annual variation in their dietary preferences, or the composition and quality of their diet. Hoogerwerf was of the opinion that Banteng were largely dependent on grasses and sedges and, with reference to Ujung Kulon in West Java, he stated that ‘there were no proofs that browse formed a substantial part of the diet.’ However, Schenkel and Schenkel-Hulliger (1969) reported that Banteng and deer in Ujung Kulon are forced to travel widely in the dry season and ‘feed on bamboo, young palm leaves, bush, and saplings as well.’ And the stomachs of a number of bulls which were shot in the South Tjiandur region of Java were almost completely full of non-graminaceous species. In Pananjung-Pangandaran Reserve in West Java Banteng were observed to graze on a variety of plants but appeared to prefer the grasses Ischaemum muticum, Axonopus compressus, Paspalum conjugatum, and Cynodon dactylon; and a woody forest shrub ,i>Psychotria malayana. Grazing intensity was lower in the forest than in the open fields where it was inversely proportional to the amount of Eupatorium odoratum and Imperata cylindrical although they did eat these species (Sumardja and Kartawinata 1977).
When undisturbed, Banteng displays a more or less fixed diurnal pattern of behaviour with periods (usually two to three hours long) of feeding alternating with rest periods of a similar length during which the animals ruminate. In areas which are subject to frequent human disturbance it becomes rather nocturnal and generally enters open areas only at night, although in especially attractive localities it will tolerate human presence to a certain extent (Halder 1976). In undisturbed areas Banteng's ‘do not differentiate much in their activities between day and night, but...really large assemblages on open plains occur almost exclusively by day...This round the clock activity (which is, however, interrupted countless times to rest and/or ruminate) may not be regarded as abnormal’ (Hoogerwerf 1970: 211-212).
The basic social group appears to be female–juvenile unit (as in the other large Asian Bovini) with larger groups tending to be more-or-less temporary assemblages. Maternal herds containing several adult cows, juveniles, and calves occur; these groups can often contain one or more subadult and adult males. Groups of cows without calves are also seen. For much of the year (adult) Banteng's are largely sexually segregated and all-male groups are frequently encountered at this time. Solitary animals tend to be mature bulls or sometimes old cows. The composition of small groups of cows with calves or juveniles, and the solitary state of old individuals may remain the same for months or even years. The composition of other small groups, particularly the unisex groups, usually varies from day to day. During the mating season the male groups disband and dominant males compete for access to receptive females (Hoogerwerf 1970; Halder 1976; S. Hedges unpubl. data 1991-2002).
In open areas large herds of more than 100 animals have been reported but these herds appear to be temporary associations formed when smaller groups and solitary animals arrive in an area to feed and the animals tend to reform into smaller groups when they leave the feeding areas. The composition of these groups often varies on a daily basis although there may be a stable nucleus of animals which returns to the same clearing day after day. The large herds may have an established dominance hierarchy but it seems to vary depending on the habitat. In more densely vegetated areas solitary animals or small groups, generally with fewer than eight animals, are more typical (Halder 1973, 1976; S. Hedges unpubl. data 1991–2002).
In Thailand the mating season is in May and June (Lekagul and McNeely 1977); while breeding reportedly occurs the whole year round in Myanmar (Peacock 1933). Wharton (1957) collected information from Cambodians living within Banteng habitat which suggested that the majority of births occurred in December and January which, assuming a gestation period of about 10 months, suggests that most conceptions take place in March and April. However, Hermanns (cited in Hoogerwerf 1970) was of the opinion that Banteng in mainland Asia mate from September to October. Hoogerwerf (1970) recorded mating taking place all year round in West Java but there was a peak of activity in October; and he thought that those cows which mated outside the peak period were probably exceptional. He was of the opinion that Banteng's in both East and West Java generally calved in July and August which would suggest that mating generally took place from October to December; more recent observations in East Java have also revealed evidence of year-round matings (neonates have been seen in all months) but with an apparent peak of births between June and September (S. Hedges unpubl. data 1991–2002).
The major threats to Banteng are hunting and habitat loss
(Duckworth and Hedges 1998; Pudyatmoko 2004; Steinmetz 2004; S. Hedges unpub.
data 1991–2002). In Sabah habitat loss to permanent agriculture is a serious
threat, although hunting is equally significant and the species has been rapidly
exterminated from many areas there (Payne et al. 1985; Ahmad AH pers. comm.
2008). Habitat loss has also been serious in Java since 1998. Elsewhere, hunting
is the most widespread and significant threat, and is exacerbated especially in
mainland Southeast Asia by human repopulation of lowland forest areas and
associated habitat fragmentation, that is, the very areas where most Banteng's
occur (Duckworth and Hedges 1998; Timmins and Ou 2001; R.J. Timmins pers. comm.
2008). Although huge tracts of suitable habitat were lost in the twentieth
century, and continue to be converted, this has probably largely occurred after
Banteng have been hunted out (R.J. Timmins pers. comm. 2008). Thus, the hunting
is the proximate cause of decline, but habitat loss is continually reducing the
maximum population possible if hunting issues were to be controlled.
The magnitude of the threat posed to Banteng by international trade in trophy horns is difficult to quantify. Nevertheless, given the small size of the remaining Banteng population and the number of trophies found for sale in Cambodia, the Lao PDR, Thailand, and Viet Nam, during what were essentially opportunistic surveys, it is clearly a major threat on the Asian mainland (Srikosamatara et al. 1992; Baird 1993; Srikosamatara and Suteethorn 1994, 1995; Martin and Phipps 1996; Srifa La-Ong et al. 1997; Duckworth et al. 1999; Timmins and Ou 2001). The threat posed by use of traditional medicinal substances derived from wild oxen is even harder to determine in the case of Banteng and essentially remains unknown, although it is thought to be a source of significant threat to Gaur (see 2008 Red List account).
The most important population in Cambodia is scattered through a forest landscape that encompasses four provinces (Mondulkiri, Kratie, Stung Treng and Ratanakiri) and five conservation areas (Lomphat Wildlife Sanctuary, Phnom Prich Wildlife Sanctuary, Siema Biodiversity Conservation Area, Mondulkiri Protection Forest (including the Srepok Wilderness Area) and Phnom Nam Lyr Wildlife Sanctuary) (Timmins and Ou 2001; Tordoff et al. 2005; R. J. Timmins pers. comm. 2008). Hunting is still rife in much of this area, and forest fragmentation is rapidly accelerating with human population in-migration, infrastructural developments (especially roads), commercial agricultural expansion, economic land speculation and mineral extraction (R. J. Timmins pers. comm. 2008). However, although perhaps less than 20% of this area is well protected from the aforementioned threats and protected area management is only close to effective in two areas, the most significant issue concerning the area is the long-term uncertainty of continuation of effective conservation management of the Srepok Wilderness Area and Siema Biodiversity Conservation Area. Although conservation efforts for Banteng and many other species have been, in both areas, extremely encouraging for the last few years, both areas face an uncertain future with the possibility of de-gazettment of conservation status of parts of them, the possible loss of adequate external funding necessary to maintain high standards of management, the possible loss of political support necessary to uphold high protection standards and the uncertainties of maintaining a motivated and well-trained staff.
On Java some populations are potentially threatened by heavy predation from Dholes Cuon alphinus (Hedges and Tyson 1996; Pudyatmoko 2004). All populations are also threatened by poaching and some, perhaps most, are threatened by habitat loss and degradation (S. Hedges unpub. data 1991–2002). During the 1980s–1990s, when poaching and land conversion were relatively well under control in Javan national parks, the chief threat to the large population of Banteng in Baluran National Park was loss of grazing area to invasion by the introduced tree Acacia nilotica (Leguminosae) that converts open grassland to dense thorny scrub-forest. This plant was introduced (without adequate risk assessment) as part of an attempt to create a living fire-break around the park's grasslands, wild fire then being adjudged the major threat to the park’s monsoon forests. Since that introduction, repeated cutting of the acacia has led to coppicing into very dense thickets that contain little or no grass or other herbs and are difficult for the cattle to penetrate. Thus habitat loss and poaching are now serious limiting factors in Baluran National Park, and habitat loss/degradation remains a severe long-term threat to be addressed (S. Hedges pers. comm. 2008). Lantana camara (Verbenaceae) is also a problem in Banteng habitat in Baluran National Park and elsewhere on Java (S. Hedges pers. comm. 2008).
Bali cattle have long been interbred with other cattle: Banteng and Bali cattle can interbreed with both common cattle and mithan (Bos frontalis) (Fischer 1980; National Research Council 1983). Hybrids between Banteng and common cattle (Bos Taurus) of the zebu type are fully fertile; in hybrids between Banteng and Bos Taurus of the European type the males are sterile (Jellinek et al. 1980; National Research Council 1983). Domestic and feral livestock are thus a potential threat to the genetic integrity of wild Banteng populations and a number of reports suggest that wild Banteng does interbreed with domestic cattle. For example, Hoogerwerf (1970) referred to several sources from the 1930s and 1940s which mention that many groups of Banteng in Kalimantan (particularly East Kalimantan) were no longer pure-bred having interbred with stray domestic cattle. Wharton (1957) also found evidence of interbreeding with domestic cattle in Cambodia; and reports from Myanmar mention that Banteng feed alongside village cattle and occasionally interbreed with them (Tun Yin 1967; Salter 1983). In addition to the genetic threat, domestic livestock are a potential source of diseases and parasites. This can have very serious consequences for Banteng which appear to be particularly susceptible to a number of cattle diseases; for example, Banteng populations in Myanmar have been very badly affected by diseases from domestic cattle (Hundley cited in Wharton 1968).
Introgression with domestic cattle is not presently an issue in Sabah; there have been imports of Bali cattle mostly by large cattle farms who house animals in feedlots away from wild populations. Ahmad AH (pers. comm. 2008) is unaware of any instances of deliberate introduction of Bali cattle or other domestic oxen into forest areas, or of any plantation holders that have deliberately introduced their cattle into the range of wild Banteng. Although integration of livestock into oil palm plantation has been discussed for many years, this has not yet been put into practice (Ahmad AH pers. comm. 2008).
This species is legally protected in all range states. The
species is not listed on CITES, although a proposal was submitted to include it
on Appendix 1 (Hedges 1996).
The most significant known Banteng populations remaining in Southeast Asia are in Java, Cambodia and perhaps Thailand and Borneo, and it is in these countries and around these populations that conservation efforts should be focused.
Banteng is mainly confined to protected areas throughout Southeast Asia (see Population), with the probable exception of Cambodia (and the situation in Myanmar is unknown), where significant number may still occur outside them (J.W. Duckworth and Than Zaw pers. comm. 2006; R.J. Timmins pers. comm. 2008). Presence in Lao protected areas is currently uncertain but there are at least 10 large forested protected areas in the south which may still support the species as well as three to four areas in the north, but any populations are certainly not large. In Viet Nam, the species probably now occurs in only a few protected areas (see Population).
In Cambodia, most of the large forested protected areas, of which there are more than 15, are likely to retain at least residual Banteng populations. Unfortunately, in most protected areas of Lao PDR, Vietnam and Cambodia which still retain Banteng, protected status offers little if any protection to the species (R. J. Timmins pers. comm. 2008). Exceptions are Cat Tien National Park in Viet Nam (although Banteng is not confirmed still extant), and the Srepok Wilderness Area and Siema Biodiversity Conservation Area in Cambodia; in the latter two areas there are now even signs of population recovery (WCS unpublished data; WWF unpublished data). The immediate conservation needs for the large Mondulkiri-centred Cambodian population are to continue strengthening site-based conservation management, in particular of the Srepok Wilderness Area and Siema Biodiversity Conservation Area, and laying the necessary groundwork to ensure that such management can be continued indefinitely.
Java has highly fragmented natural habitats and has done for centuries, reflecting longstanding high human population densities. Many protected areas were established during the Dutch colonial period but from independence up until the 1970s they were largely under-funded and neglected. After hosting the World Parks Conference in 1982, the Indonesian government gazetted a swathe of national parks and more structured conservation planning began, funded by the World Bank and other donors. The focus was largely on the 'multi-function' national parks and much money was spent on infrastructure, some staff training and increased personnel. The 'lesser' protected areas such as "game reserves" and "nature reserves" still had few staff and resources, and that has continued to the present. There was some habitat loss from protected areas through illegal logging, agricultural encroachment and other offtake, but the national parks of Java (several of which contain ideal habitat for Banteng and, at least into the mid 1990s, large populations) remained remarkably intact for much of the period. During the 1980s and early to mid 1990s guns were tightly controlled and the military and police were feared and respected. The strong culture of caged bird keeping meant that hunting, including that within protected areas, was primarily for birds and some small game, through various forms of trapping, including snaring. Thus there was relatively little hunting of Banteng and populations were stable or even increasing. Socio-political changes from 1997 led to a reduction in the respect for the police and military and the rise of a viewpoint that protected areas were the peoples' resources and would therefore benefit from decentralised management (M. Tyson pers. comm. 2008). This policy change, which risked a ‘tragedy of the commons’, has indeed led to increased destruction and poaching in the past decade. Banteng, as a large ungulate, is particularly threatened by this rapid rise in illegal hunting (S. Hedges pers. comm. 2008) and also by expansion of agriculture on Java and other forms of encroachment (G. Semiadi pers. comm.; S. Hedges pers. comm. 2008.). The decentralisation of conservation management decisions and actions, macro-economic fluctuations and reduced authority of The Law impedes control of illegal hunting (S. Hedges pers. comm. 2008).
In Thailand there are two populations thought to contain over 50 individuals, in Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary and Kaeng Krachan National Park. Both areas are under active conservation management.
A large captive population exists (in addition to the large global population of the domesticated form which is believed to have hybridized widely with other oxen species) and a large introduced feral population, derived from Bali cattle, occurs in the northern territories of Australia (Bradshaw et al. 2006).