Banteng are probably the second largest cattle (after gaur) and rarest cattle in the world. Living wild (domesticated banteng are smaller) in South East Asia and Australia, there are thought to be only about 11,000 animals left in the wild. Banteng are very wary cattle and despite being diurnal, will become nocturnal in locations where humans are nearby. UNESCO world heritage sites like Huai Kha Khaeng wildlife sanctuary in Thailand offer the best chance of secure lives for these unique and beautiful cattle.
- Kingdom: Animalia
- Phylum: Chordata
- Class: Mammalia
- Order: Artiodactyla
- Family: Bovidae
- Genus: Bos
- Species: Bos javanicu
Table of Contents
Appearance of Banteng
The banteng displays sexual dimorphism (which means males and females possess varying physical traits outside reproduction organs) Famed for their ‘white socks’ females are largely a reddish brown and russet hue with a white rump and are smaller and thinner than males.
As males age their coats become dusky then almost completely black, spreading from the front to the rump. Males are noticeably more powerfully built than females and all round larger. Wild banteng head to rump length is typically between 1.9 and 2.25 m (6.2 and 7.4 ft).
The largest bulls can weigh more than 2000 LB (900 KG) and reach an eye opening 7.4 feet at head height. Female horns differ from male horns, being more curved and inward pointing. Male horns are much wider set
splaying outward at the pointed tips, though both female and males horns are black. Long black tails
keep insects such as mosquitos at bay. Females and juvenile have dusky coloured black bones.
Dispersion of Wild Banteng
Bantneg thrive on grasslands, semi- ever green forests, deciduous forests far from man if they can. However they thrive in protected national parks where though still wary of humans, they feel comfortable living diurnal lives. Prevalent in South East Asian countries, largest populations of banteng exist in Cambodia, Java, Borneo and Thailand.
Domesticated cattle live primarily in Indonesia and its islands. Domesticated banteng are reared for meat in Malaysia, Australia and New guinea. A feral population was introduced to Australia in 1849 by a British outpost. When the outpost was abandoned the banteng were released; a 2007 study claimed there were 8,000–10,000 feral banteng thriving in the Garig Gunak Barlu National Park (Cobourg Peninsula, Northern Territory).
The introduction of banteng in Australia is a controversial subject. Seen by many as an invasive species,
banteng are blamed for destruction of wetland vegetation and soil erosion and the mix of sea water and fresh water.
Where Can I see Wild Banteng?
Thailand’s national parks are havens of rare wildlife. With very low poaching levels and diverse flora and fauna
Kui Buri National Park, a 3 hour drive from Bangkok is home to a few thriving herds of Banteng. The Prachuap Khiri Khan Province, park has safari pickups with guides who escort visitors to a watching area.
Diet of Banteng
Banteng are herbivores, thriving in unspoilt woodland with a good selection of shoots, leaves, grasses, flowers seeds and bark. They will eat Bermuda grass and Axonopus compressus among other grasses. They are known to eat bamboo according to a Thai study.
Fantastic Facts About the Banteng
- The old recorded human paintings in remote cave in Kalimantan on the eastern side of Borneo depicts a banteng that lived over 40,000 years ago.
- Poaching still very much exists. A banteng was killed by poachers March 2021 in Kulen Promtep Wildlife Sanctuary (KPWS), Cambodia.
- Bantengs are killed for bush meat and primarily for their horns.
Habits and Breeding
Wild banteng live in herds of 2 or 3 up to 30 animals. Like all bovine they have four-chambered stomachs adapted to chewing and digesting grass. after a few hours eating they will rest and runinate (where the banteng will regurgitate previously consumed plant matter and chew it further) for up to several hours a day. This allows banteng to eat forages and other high fiber food.
The largest populations live in Ujung Kulon National Park and Baluran National Park in Java. Males reach sexual maturity at three to four years, and females at two to four years. the main mating season is during october and November. Births typically take place in the south east Asian winter, June to August which is warm compared with European and North American winters.
Banteng are listed as an internationally endangered species on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species. Thai, Indonesian and Malay National parks hitherto offer their best quality of life and chances of survival. However even in national parks poaching exists.
“Besides being targeted for bush meat, the mammal has often become a bycatch in snares meant for smaller animals like wild boar and deer,”DGFC director Dr Benoit Goossens (Sabah Wildlife Department and the Danau Girang Field Centre KOTA KINABALU.
Captive breeding programs like that started by the Sabah state wildlife protection department can be very important in protecting the banteng.
Keeping herds away from domestic cattle is another way in conserving the bentang as they are suseptable to picking up bovine illnesses.