The Wild Side of Cattle
Cattle might seem common, but there’s nothing ordinary about Asia’s wild cattle species: Banteng, Saola, Anoa, Tamaraw—and that list goes on.
Tama-what now? The Tamaraw is a feisty dwarf buffalo unique to the Philippines’ island of Mindoro. Saola? An antelope-like species so elusive that no scientist has ever seen one in the wild and no camera trap has captured any images of it since 2013. Asian wild cattle are species with stories that capture the imagination. They also need our help.
Up until the 16th century, 13 species of wild cattle lived across Asia, Europe, Africa and North America. Today, only 11 species are still around. Nine of those are found only in Asia. Wild cattle face a variety of threats, including habitat destruction and hunting, and as their populations get smaller, so do their opportunities to breed.
Importance of Asian Wild Cattle
Asian wild cattle, like most terrestrial vertebrates, play an important role in the ecosystems in which they live. They disperse seeds to help plants grow, they help cycle nutrients in the soil and they add balance to the food chain as prey for the predators with which they share their home. They even support communities of fungi and insects in their dung!
Supporting Wild Cattle Conservation
The IUCN Species Survival Commission’s Asian Wild Cattle Specialist Group represents over 80 of the world’s experts on these species. They provide independent scientific advice on the conservation of Asia’s wild cattle to governments, international bodies and conservation groups. Re:wild supports this specialist group so that it can continue to provide advice, maintain up-to-date conservation assessments for each species and catalyze conservation for all Asian wild cattle species.
Re:Wild has projects working with the Saola and the Tamaraw. Through our partnership of the Asian Wild Cattle Specialist Group we also support work on the Banteng and Anoa Action Indonesia program, which works to conserve Banteng and Anoa both in the wild and with the global population under human care as part of a conservation breeding program.
This work is done in collaboration with the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria, the Conservation Centers for Species Survival and the Indonesian Zoo and Aquarium Association.