2 Jul 2014
Ear, ear! A rare banteng – a species of wild cattle from south east Asia – has been born at Chester Zoo. It is estimated that between 5,000 and 8,000 individuals are left in the wild, largely due to the loss of their forest habitat and hunting.

The male calf – who is yet to be named – arrived to mum Pankhuri and dad Gaston.

Also known as tembadau, the banteng is a species of wild cattle native to the forests of south east Asia.

Banteng are listed as endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) who say the species has declined by 95 percent since the 1960s. Hunting for the trade in their horns, meat and traditional medicines and the accelerated loss of their forest habitat are just two factors which have reduced their numbers to an estimated 5,000 – 8,000 in the wild.

Curator of mammals Tim Rowlands said:

“South east Asia is home to some of the most threatened species on the planet and it’s frightening to think that on a busy summer day, more people will visit Chester Zoo than there are banteng left in the wild.

“Hopefully our new young boy – who is doing very well indeed – will inspire a few more people to take notice of this very special species. Better still we hope he’ll connect them with the plight of his cousins in the wild. The name ‘wild cattle’ maybe doesn’t conjure up images of a species under threat but with only a few thousand left, there’s no doubt that this magnificent animal faces an uncertain future.”

The new youngster is the third calf to be born in Chester following Penni and Gus who both arrived in May 2013. The zoo now has a herd of six – three males and three females.

In spring 2015 the herd will move into a whole new area of the zoo when we open our Islands project. As a visitor to Islands you will go on an expedition – moving through detailed recreations of habitats in the Philippines, Bali, Sulawesi, Papua, Sumba and Sumatra.

We hope that the development, the biggest and most ambitions in UK zoo history, will showcase its conservation work in south east Asia and highlight the threats faced by species such as Sumatran orangutan, Sumatran tigers, Visayan warty pigs and Bali starlings as well as banteng.


Banteng facts

  • The zoo’s new youngster was born on May 9
  • In the wild, the once-thriving species has been reduced to small, isolated populations whose numbers are in decline and are at risk from a host of threats including poaching inside protected areas, habitat loss, hybridisation with domestic cattle and infections from domestic cattle diseases
  • Banteng play a key role in circulating nutrients through ecosystems, dispersing seeds and maintaining food chains. They are and are a critical food source for many carnivore species, including tigers and leopards
  • On June 4 2014, Fauna and Flora International (FFI) announced the discovery of a new population of banteng (Bos javanicus) in north-western Cambodia. Camera trap images of six banteng were taken in a 9,500-hectare community forest in Siem Reap Province, where the species was previously believed to have gone extinct