What do a pig, a tiny buffalo and a cow have in common? They are all important parts of the ecosystem. Indonesia is one of 17 “megadiverse” countries, meaning the islands are home to an abundance of different plants and animals – over 27,000 of them, to be exact! Many of these species, like the Anoa, Babirusa, and Banteng, are endemic to Indonesia, which means they cannot be found anywhere else in the world. By protecting Anoa, Babirusa, and Banteng and their habitat, we are also helping protect all those other species who live alongside them. Just like an umbrella protects you from the rain, Anoa, Babirusa, and Banteng protect other species from extinction.
Anoa, Babirusa, and Banteng are also important to the culture of Indonesia
Anoa, Babirusa, and Banteng’s ties to Indonesian culture are some of the oldest in the world. Babirusa and Anoa made international news in 2014 when an archaeologist dated cave paintings of these animals found on Sulawesi to over 35,000 years ago. At the time, this made the images the oldest known example of figurative art in the world. Four years later, Banteng entered the spotlight. An image was found in a cave in Borneo that was at least 40,000 years old. In addition to the cave art, jewelry made of Babirusa tusks cut in to disks have been found. However, there is not much evidence indicating that Babirusa, Anoa, or Banteng were part of the regular diet of these people, leading anthropologists to believe that these animals held a special symbolic meaning to early Indonesians. These discoveries are not only changing our understanding of human development, but also represent the ancient connection between these species and the people of Indonesia.
In the modern day, these species are still engrained in the rich tapestry of Indonesia and abroad. The Anoa’s fierce reputation – especially for its small stature – has led to an unusual namesake: an Indonesian-manufactured military armored personnel carrier. Banteng lend their name (and a fierce version of their face) to a Jakarta-based rugby club. In Seattle, Washington, USA, an upscale bar has borrowed the name and skull of the Babirusa to represent their unique take on a variety of international fare.
The Action Indonesia GSMPs are working to ensure that these species continue to play their vital role, both ecologically and culturally, for many years to come.
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 2006, 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.
When the management plans were founded in 2016, the respective International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Species Survival Commission Specialist Groups and the Indonesian Ministry for Environment and Forestry agreed upon four main goals:
To work toward a healthy genetic population of animals in ex-situ facilities (animals under human care at zoos, sanctuaries, wildlife parks, etc.), including breeding recommendations and the transfer of animals between facilities.
To support the goals of, and build capacity among, ex-situ programs by encouraging the collaborative sharing of knowledge, research, and expertise,
To promote a more cohesive relationship between ex-situ and in-situ (in the field) programs to better support the conservation of the four species.
To garner support for the in-situ conservation work being done to support the species.
As zoo educators, conservationists and representatives for the GSMP we can spread the word about the
global collaboration and conservation work being done to safeguard banteng, anoa and babirusa from
extinction and inspire and enable people to get involved in protecting these enigmatic species.