What do a pig,
a tiny buffalo, and a cow have in common?
They are all important parts of the ecosystem and threatened with extinction.
Each of them is found only in Indonesia.
15 Indonesia & Asia
America & Canada
AUGUST 15, 2021
Join us in raising awareness for all three species on our first ever Action Indonesia Day! By organizing institutions around the globe in a focused, singular awareness event we hope to reach as many audiences as possible.
Found only on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi, Anoa inhabit dense forests and swamps. They are not only the tiniest species of buffalo, but are also the smallest wild cattle species!
Although small in size (averaging 2.5 ft tall), these animals have big personality! Anoa are generally shy, but can be rather fierce, using their short – but effective – horns to charge at threats. Anoa prefer to spend their time alone, with the exception of females and their young. Both males and females have horns, which grow closely along the back of the head to prevent getting tangled in the forest undergrowth. Anoa are excellent swimmers and spend time in water and mud to keep cool on hot days. They are herbivores and feed on aquatic plants, ferns, grass, fruit, and ginger. In this way anoa are important gardeners. They help strip away old growth to make way for the new. As they move through the forest, their droppings spread seeds. In their natural environment, anoa can live up to 20 years and have no natural predators as adults – except for humans. In human care, anoa have been known to live up to 31 years.
Lowland anoa are frequently hunted for their meat and their horns are sold as souvenirs.
Anoa are also faced with a loss of their forest homes. As people, mining, and agriculture spread, the land is cleared and habitat is removed.
Indonesian law protects anoa, but unfortunately does not fully stop poaching. Public education programs run by local organizations aim to raise awareness for the importance of anoa and are striving to engage the local population in their protection. A few former poachers have even become instructors for the program. The Anoa Breeding Center, located outside of Manado on Sulawesi, focuses on breeding anoa for potential release and their work has been crucial to understanding anoa reproduction. Managed breeding programs in zoos in Indonesia, Europe, North America, and Asia are also collaborating to maintain a genetically diverse anoa population in human care.
Sulawesi babirusa are only found on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi. These mostly hairless pigs prefer to live in forests and swamps and are quite skilled swimmers. Their name means “deer-pig” in Malay due to the unique appearance of the males’ upper canine teeth that curve back toward the skull, resembling antlers. Legend states that male babirusa use their large teeth to hang from trees at night while they sleep. While we now know this to be fiction, scientists have yet to confirm the actual reason behind this eye-catching adaptation. The most popular theory is that they offer eye protection during sparring. To establish dominance, male babirusa will rear up on their back legs and “box” each other, so it would definitely be helpful to have modified tusks to serve as safety goggles.
Babirusa are omnivorous and feed on fruit, seeds, leaves, and insects. However, unlike other pig species, they lack a rostral bone and are unable to root in the soil for food. Also unlike other pig species, babirusa give birth to small litters of 1-2 piglets at a time, which leaves the species vulnerable to environmental threats. Males tend to be solitary with females and young living in groups of 8-13 individuals. Like most pigs, babirusa enjoy wallowing in mud, which helps keep them cool, protects their skin from the sun, and acts as a bug repellent. In their natural habitat, babirusa live 7-12 years, but can reach up to 24 years of age in human care.
Babirusa are illegally hunted for their meat.
On Sulawesi, babirusa are rapidly losing their habitat due to deforestation caused by mining, palm oil plantations, and logging.
Babirusa are fully protected by Indonesian law and call six wildlife preserves and national parks on Sulawesi home. Within these parks and preserves, rangers are working to stop poachers and rehabilitate injured or confiscated animals. Public education programs run by local organizations aim to raise awareness for the importance of babirusa and are striving to engage the local population in their protection. Local researchers are conducting population studies using camera traps and are developing a method to get a more accurate population estimate by using fecal analysis. Managed breeding programs in zoos in Indonesia, Europe, North America, and Asia are collaborating to maintain a genetically diverse babirusa population.
Banteng – also known as tembadau - are native to various parts of Southeast Asia, most notably Java, Cambodia, Thailand, and possibly Borneo. They are considered to be one of the most beautiful and graceful of all wild cattle species and are thought to be the ancestors of the domestic cattle throughout Southeast Asia. Both males and females have horns, but male banteng’s horns are much longer and grow up instead of curving in at the ends. Banteng are known for their white stockings and rump, with males being much darker in color than females and young. They live in herds made up of 2-40 individuals with each herd having only one bull. Males will sometimes group together in bachelor herds. Banteng prefer drier, grassland habitats generally, but move to forests and bamboo jungles during monsoon season. They are herbivores and feed on mainly on grass, bamboo, and leaves. As large grazers, they banteng play an important role in their ecosystem by regularly disturbing the plant life, making way for new plants, and composting nutrients for the soil. In human care, banteng can live 20-26 years and 16-20 years in their natural environment.
Banteng are illegally hunted for their meat, pelt, and horns, which are valued as trophies.
banteng face a rapid loss of habitat due to human expansion and agriculture. Most wild banteng are confined to protected areas, with the largest wild population residing on Java.
loss of genetic diversity
Due to their genetic similarity, banteng are able to breed with domestic cattle, which leads to a loss of valuable genetic material and hybridization. The close relation with domestic cattle also means that banteng are susceptible to diseases and parasites carried by domestic animals.
Banteng are protected by law, but a large illegal trade in their parts still exists. Java is the most important area for wild banteng conservation, with the largest populations residing in either Ujung Kulon National Park or Baluran National Park. Rangers at the parks focus on protecting the habitat from illegal activities, such as poaching and logging. Population monitoring within these parks has been undertaken using images collected from camera traps, which provides conservationists with much needed data for conservation planning. Managed breeding programs in zoos in Indonesia, Europe, North America, and Asia are also collaborating to maintain a genetically diverse banteng population in human care.
We are the Action Indonesia Global Species Management Plan (GSMP). We are more than 50 organisations from across Europe, Asia, Indonesia, America and Canada, all working together to save some of Indonesia’s most unique and special species. The Action Indonesia GSMP takes a global view of the conservation of Anoa, Babirusa and Banteng. We also work collaboratively with the Sumatran Tiger GSMP.
Our work focuses on the conservation breeding of these species in zoos, educating the public about how we can all help save them and on supporting conservation of the species and their habitats in the wild.
What is a GSMP?
Global Species Management Plans (GSMPs) are international, collaborative conservation plans focused on the long-term survival of target species. These plans – overseen by the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) - bring together zoos, governments, and conservation organizations to concentrate skills and energy for maximum impact in both zoos (ex-situ) and the field (in-situ). Instead of each regional organization working independently toward their specific conservation goals, GSMPs use a One-Plan approach, which encourages regions to work together as a single, cohesive team.
In 2016, the Action Indonesia GSMPs were created to help protect Anoa, Banteng, and Babirusa from extinction. In 2018, the longest running GSMP – Sumatran tiger – joined forces with Action Indonesia to increase reach and collaboration.
What is the One Plan Approach?
The One Plan approach to species conservation is the development of management strategies and conservation actions by all responsible parties for all populations of a species, whether inside or outside their natural range. That means that everyone involved in conservation of a species works together, following the same plan, and coordinating with each other for a shared goal.
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