World Wildlife Fund (WWF) biodiversity researchers encountered a herd of banteng, a type of wild cattle native to Southeast Asia, while they were conducting wildlife surveys last month in Mondulkiri province’s Phnom Prich Wildlife Sanctuary.
WWF Cambodia communications director Tep Asnarith said the researchers counted nearly 10 of the massive, muscle-bound animals, including one juvenile and a majestic bull.
They said the herd appeared startled and were moving fast, possibly because of other animals in the area or the researchers themselves.
“Filming banteng in the wild requires great patience and caution. We must ensure the researcher’s safety while documenting the presence of this majestic animal in one of Cambodia’s rich biodiversity hotspots,” Asnarith said.
Banteng are classified by the International Union for Conservation of Nature as endangered.
Asnarith said banteng are under threat from poachers and habitat loss due to illegal logging and deforestation.
But the WWF and environment officials remain committed to working together to protect these natural resources by calling for more community involvement.
Provincial Department of Environment director Keo Sopheak suggested on Thursday that a group of hunters may have been chasing the banteng.
“We have increased our protection efforts after the emergence of the banteng. We will collaborate with development partners and local communities to help protect wildlife and prevent deforestation,” Sopheak said.
According to a WWF report published on Thursday, banteng are considered one of the most beautiful and graceful of all species of wild cattle.
The report added that tigers are one of the banteng’s predators.