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Cymraeg

Cardiff research may help prevent extinction of an endangered cattle species

14 June 2011

A new collaborative project involving researchers from Cardiff University’s Field Centre in Malaysia is aiming to protect the Bornean banteng, potentially the first large mammal to go extinct in the near future.

The Bornean Banteng Programme has been launched to aid understanding and conservation of the banteng, a relatively unknown species of wild cattle.

Dr Benoit Goossens, Director of the University’s Danau Girang Field Centre (DGFC), said: "Years of poaching and recent forest conversion to vast areas of oil palm plantations have induced a drastic decline of banteng numbers in Borneo. If nothing is done to reverse the situation, this species could be the first large mammal to go extinct in the near future.

"Ecological information is crucial to the conservation of the banteng, however its elusive behaviour, remote inhospitable habitat and small population size preclude investigation."

To overcome these problems, researchers will use satellite telemetry, remote camera traps and genetic analysis to study the banteng population in two forest reserves. The project aims to increase knowledge of the mammals by identifying their home ranges and habitat use, as well as estimating their genetic diversity.

Penny Gardner, PhD student from Cardiff University’s School of Biosciences and funded by Houston Zoo, is working on the project, carrying out her research in the 122,000 hectares of Tabin Wildlife Reserve.

Penny said: "We’ve been setting up camera traps here at Tabin and also at Malua Forest Reserve, and have already managed to collect some wonderful pictures of healthy adult males and females, as well as juveniles."

DGFC’s collaborative partners will include the Sabah Wildlife Department, HUTAN, the Sabah Forestry Department, New Forests Asia, the Malua Biobank Project and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research. Additional funding is provided by the Malaysian Palm Oil Council, Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund and Woodland Park Zoo.

Dr Laurentius Ambu, Director of the Sabah Wildlife Department, said: "The results of this programme will assist our department to develop a State Action Plan for banteng, and will hopefully increase awareness and appreciation of the wonderful wildlife that Sabah is blessed with and that we should protect against poaching, habitat degradation and habitat loss."

-ENDS-

1. For further information, please contact:

Jessica Kelly
Public Relations Office
Cardiff University
029 2087 0298
kellyja@cardiff.ac.uk

2. Danau Girang Field Centre

Danau Girang Field Centre is a collaborative research and training facility managed by Cardiff University and Sabah Wildlife Department. Funding from Cardiff allowed the establishment of a research laboratory, a computer room, a library, the acquisition of research equipment and the employment of a Director.

It is situated in the Lower Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary in Sabah, Malaysia and is surrounded by a mixture of lowland dipterocarp forest types, ranging from primary forest to disturbed secondary forest, in a matrix landscape with significant human impact including villages, small scale agriculture and oil palm plantations.