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Rare Kalimantan wild cattle species?
Published on: Thursday, February 23, 2017

Kota Kinabalu: Sabah Wildlife Department Assistant Director Dr Sen Nathan said the photo of a head of a "strange" cattle that was slaughtered for a feast in a North Kalimantan village for a visiting Sabah delegation indicates a new species of wild cattle in Kalimantan. "Who knows, it might be an unknown yet to be discovered cattle species roaming in the jungle of Borneo," said Dr Sen, citing the discovery of the "Saola" in 1992 from a carcass in Vietnam and filmed in the wild in 1999.

"It is so far the rarest forest dwelling bovid in the world," said Dr Sen. "On the other hand though it could be a severely inbred Banteng or Tembadau-domestic cattle hybrid.

It is worth further investigation to get to the bottom of the matter," he said.

The picture carried in the series of Daily Express reports entitled "South of the Border" in late December 2016 showed the head and horns of the slaughtered creature that appears like a Banteng or Tembedau (wild cattle).

The report said that the guests were treated to satay made from the meat.

A member of the Sabah delegation that was led by former Chief Minister Tan Sri Harris Salleh said he inquired about the strange-looking cattle and was told by a kitchen help that it was "sapi hutan" (jungle cattle).

Meanwhile, the Danau Girang Field Centre (DGFC) criticised the offering of bush meat from an animal listed as an endangered species by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

The centre's Tembadau Programme Manager Dr Penny Gardner said this was the second reported incident in recent times and further evidence of the brazen exploitation of Borneo Banteng for personal gratification.

"They demonstrate blatant disregard for Malaysian and Indonesian laws which protect rare wildlife against hunting.

"Strong enforcement of the legislation is required to demonstrate that it is not acceptable to hunt Tembadau and that it will not be tolerated," she said.

Tembadau, also known as Banteng Borneo or wild cattle is not only listed under the IUCN Red List, but a Totally Protected species under the Sabah Wildlife Conservation and the Law of the Republic of Indonesia No 5/1990 which is presently being revised by the Indonesian Government.

Poaching had caused the collapse of the Banteng Borneo population which is also suffering from widespread loss of forest habitat due to the agricultural expansion.

Dr Gardner, however, noted more information, images and carcass may be needed to confirm if the animal was indeed a Banteng.

The study on Borneo Banteng by the DGFC is in collaboration with the Sabah Wildlife Department and has been carried out for the past six years.

The research was mostly funded by Sime Darby Foundation, Houston Zoo and the Malaysian Palm Oil Council. - Jason Santos



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