KOTA KINABALU: There is an urgent need to control poaching in all habitats that sustain the banteng to prevent the loss of the species, say the Sabah Wildlife Department (SWD) and Danau Girang Field Centre (DGFC).
The population of this wild cattle in Sabah, reportedly numbering less than 500, also face fragmentation of their habitat through deforestation, infrastructure and human activity, they added.
DGFC director Dr Benoit Goossens said in a statement on Wednesday (Sept 4) that apart from being targeted for bushmeat, the banteng also often ended up becoming bycatch in snares meant for smaller animals like wild boars and deer.
The professor from Cardiff University, who is based at the DGFC office in Kinabatangan, said several banteng were shot every year in protected forests.
"They are also often bycatch in snares, resulting in potentially catastrophic injuries such as the loss of a limb (wire or rope caught on their legs dramatically injure the animal).
"During our study, several images documented incidences of injuries sustained by Bornean bantengs resulting from snares," added Dr Goossens.
He said in response to the poaching problem, DGFC recently assisted the Sabah Forestry Department (SFD) in securing a grant from Sime Darby Foundation to increase the capacity of SFD's anti-poaching Protect Unit.
It should provide a fantastic boost to wildlife conservation and hopefully would be able to deter poachers in the state, he added.
Meanwhile, SWD director Augustine Tuuga said the Borneo Banteng Action Plan for Sabah, together with two other plans (for proboscis monkey and Sunda clouded leopard), had been officially endorsed by the Sabah's Cabinet earlier this year.
"This include setting up a captive breeding programme to boost the number of banteng, which is of great importance due to the dwindling population," said Tuuga.
He said the department with the help of DGFC would also set up an endangered species conservation unit to monitor the implementation of all existing state action plans for protected species.
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