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ESR prepress abstract   -  DOI:

Hunting pressure a key contributor to the impending extinction of Bornean wild cattle

Penny C. Gardner*, BenoƮt Goossens*, Soffian Bin Abu Bakar, Michael Bruford

*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Widespread and unregulated hunting of ungulates in Southeast Asia is resulting in population declines and localised extinctions. Increased access to previously remote tropical forest following logging and changes in land-use facilitates hunting of elusive wild cattle in Borneo, which preferentially select secluded habitat. We collated the first population parameters for the endangered Bornean banteng and developed population models to simulate the effect of different hunting offtake rates upon survival and the recovery of the population using reintroduced captive-bred individuals. Our findings suggest that the banteng population in Sabah is geographically divided into 4 management units based on connectivity: the northeast, Sipitang (west), central and southeast, which all require active management to prevent further population decline and local extinction. With only 1% offtake, population growth ceased in the northeast and Sipitang. In the southeast and central units, growth ceased at 2% and 4%, respectively. Extinction was estimated at 21–39 years when offtake was 5%, occurring first in Sipitang and last in the Central unit. Supplementing the population with captive-bred individuals suggested that inbreeding was likely to limit population growth if using 20 founder individuals or less. Translocating 2 individuals for a 10-year period, starting after 20 years of captive breeding resulted in a faster population recovery over 100 years and a lower extinction probability. Our results suggest that shielding the population against further losses from hunting will be key to their survival in the wild, providing active management in the form of captive breeding is developed in the interim.