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Banteng second most endangered in Sabah
Published on: Wednesday, March 02, 2016
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Kota Kinabalu: The Banteng or the endemic wild cattle, number about 500 in Sabah. They are smaller and have steep horns. The animal is hunted for its meat and as trophy.

Most of the population are found within the HoB although there are two groups which are separated from the rest in Sipitang and Tabin, its last stronghold in the east.

There are also reports of hybrid banteng, a product of interbreeding with domestic cattle. Such interbreeding is bad news to conservationists who would prefer that the banteng retain their unique characteristics and qualities.

The banteng is the second most endangered animal in Sabah after the rhinos and the Wildlife Department classified it as a totally protected animal.

"Sabah is well-known for eco-tourism and it is tragic that we are fast losing many of our iconic animals.

Banteng are hunted because of its meat and this unbridled appetite for exotic meat is killing our tourism industry, "said State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun.

"There is now a greater need to educate the younger generation, who will be our saviour, on the importance of wildlife conservation.

"Hunters also must be educated, they need to know their limits, what they can do and hunt and what they cannot.

I realise this may not be a popular decision but so be it," he said.

Wildlife, he said, is a valuable asset to the State's tourism but a dead and extinct rare animal would only satisfy the belly today and akin to killing the golden goose.

He acknowledged that many people have acquired the taste for banteng meat, thus motivating hunters to seek for these animals as their rarity means more money can be made through the sale of the banteng meat.

"I would suggest that the government gives ample land for banteng farming. I realise this is not an ideal solution but out of desperation… of course, there are differences between animals found in the wild and tame animals.

"But just by looking at the rapid decline of the banteng population in the State, are we not desperate enough for this?" he said.

Masidi also called for more cooperation from the private sector especially corporate companies who made billions of profit through their business activities in Sabah, to contribute towards conservation efforts.

Spending just a fraction of the billions, he said, would not even put a dent in their bank accounts and it is always the best way to give back to the society after benefiting much from the generosity of the land in Sabah.

The effort to track and record the Sabah banteng was fully sponsored by Yayasan Sime Darby who spent RM50m on camera traps, logistics, human resources and other expenses.



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