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Gaur's track in Cat Tien National Park
Wild Cattle News 2005

Table of contents

2005

green bullet November 26, The shaggiest prize. Bison-hunting returns to Montana
green bullet November, Prioksky-Terrasny Zapovednik welcomes its 11th baby bison this year
green bullet October 10, Endangered cattle find pastures new
green bullet August 5, Endangered cattle find pastures new
green bullet June 23, Wild Water Buffalo photographed in Srepok Wilderness Area
green bullet April, Malaysia gaur in situ conservation: re-introduction program
green bullet March 23, Gaur poisoned

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26th November 2005, The Economist
The shaggiest prize
Bison-hunting returns to Montana
 

Sheridan, Wyoming

On November 15th, after a 14-year hiatus, Montana re-opened hunting season on bison drifting across the northern border of Yellowstone National Park. Within the park, they are protected and essential to its identity. Outside it they are now, once again, fair game for trophy-hunters.

In 1902 23 wild bison were left in Yellowstone, the only part of the country where they survived. The banning of commercial hunting, and careful management of the animals that were left, has changed all that. Yellowstone now has a record 4,900 bison.

Wandering wild bison are no respecters on fences, and think any patch of grass is their own. They are also unafraid of humans, and quick to charge. Cattlemen are especially nervous of them because they may carry brucellosis, or undulant fever, which can in theory be transmitted to cattle and cause spontaneous abortions. Chris Smith of the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks says much has changed since the last hunt. “We used to have a zero-tolerance policy. Every bison entering Montana was hazed back into the park or shot. Now we’ve got 480,000 acres in Montana where bison are tolerated.” Such a policy, Mr Smith says, “re-engages the hunter”, rather than simply treating the bison as a pest to be eliminated.

And hunters are delighted to be re-engaged. The Montana Department of Livestock, which still has to give permission for hunts, has issued 50 licences; 6,000 people has applied for one.

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November 2005, Center for Russian Nature Conservation
The European bison breeding center in Prioksky-Terrasny Zapovednik welcomes its 11th baby bison this year

The calving season is over for rare European bison in Prioksky-Terrasny Zapovednik. The last baby bison this year was born to a female named Murimora. The baby girl was named Muvana. Her father – Shpory – was brought to Russia from Germany in 2000. The head of the breeding center, Natalia Treboganova, said that a total of 11 bison were born this year – five males and six females.

European bison once roamed throughout Europe until driven to extinction in the wild by hunting in the 1920s. Fortunately, a handful of bison was preserved in zoos around Europe. Over half a century, Russian scientists have worked to save the species from extinction by breeding the bison in centers like the one in Prioksky-Terrasny Zapovednik and reintroducing the animals into the wild. Today, wild bison roam once again in forests in western Russia and the Caucasus Mountains. However, still threatened by poaching and habitat loss, the species is not out of the woods yet.

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5th August 2005, New Scientist
Endangered cattle find pastures new  

Far from home in a remote region of Australia roams the world's largest herd of a wild, pure-bred species of threatened Indonesian cattle. The banteng's overseas success suggests that introducing endangered exotic species into other countries might be a feasible option for conservation, though there will always be ecological risks associated, says Corey Bradshaw of Charles Darwin University in Darwin, Australia.

In Asia there are fewer than 5000 wild, pure-strain banteng (Bos javanicus), living in small populations. Their range has declined by 85 per cent in the past 15 to 20 years, and the World Conservation Union lists the species as "severely threatened". Importantly for conservation efforts, analysis of the Australian herd's mitochondrial and nuclear DNA by Bradshaw and colleagues shows the animals to be pure-strain wild banteng (Conservation Biology, vol 20, p 1306).

The Australian herd sprang from 20 banteng introduced in 1849, and now stands at 6000, of which hunters pay to shoot around 40 males each year. Until now it was not known whether the herd was pure-bred, and so potentially deserving of conservation, or whether the animals had interbred with other species. The work shows that populations of a large threatened species can be established outside their native ranges.

Last year, a team led by Harry Greene of Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, suggested introducing African and Asian species such as lions and elephants to the western US to replace megafauna wiped out during the Pleistocene 13,000 years ago (Nature, vol 436, p 913). "We need to carefully consider bold, even risky new approaches to conservation in the face of our worsening global extinction crisis," Greene says.

Australia also lost its megafauna during the Pleistocene. "Introducing endangered herbivores back into the system might have a lot of ecological benefits," says Bradshaw. "It would require a lot of research, and we would have to be extremely careful, but I think it could be done."

To succeed, new colonies of threatened species would probably have to be commercial ventures, the team thinks. Safari hunting could be one way to make such a project realistic. "Generally, people don't see the value in things unless they can see a direct economic benefit," Bradshaw says.

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23rd June 2005, wwfindochina.org
Wild Water Buffalo photographed in Srepok Wilderness Area  

CAMBODIA-DRY FOREST - After a year and a half establishing a protected area in the wilderness of eastern Cambodia, the Srepok Wilderness Area (SWA) project is proving that the area is an exceptional refuge for endangered wildlife. Camera trapping in June 2005 brought in a series of photos of the critically endangered wild water buffalo. The SWAP buffalo photos are the first since a single photo was taken in 2001, by a joint survey conducted by the Wildlife Conservation Society and the Cat Action Treasury.

Wild Water Buffalo shot in the nightThe recent photo series shows at least three adults, three sub-adults and one calf, indicating that there is hope for recruitment in the population. The SWAP wild water buffaloes comprise the last remaining population in all of Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos and eastern Thailand. Although the situation is serious in terms of population numbers, it is believed that the resident population, estimated 30-50 animals, now at least stands a chance of survival.

Future work will include further strengthening the protection of the animals, and intensifying monitoring at the site where the buffalo were caught on film. Additionally, efforts will be made to obtain dung and hair samples, so that DNA analysis can determine whether this population has any relation to nearby domestic buffalo stock.

Camera traps have confirmed that SWA harbors several other threatened species of which only tracks and dung have been found, this includes gaur, banteng, Eld's deer, leopard, dhole, and Asiatic jackal. Some species not yet photographed include tiger (tracks), Asian elephant (tracks and fresh dung), Siamese crocodile (tracks and dung) and Malayan Sun Bear (seen twice).
(Martin von Kasche, June 17, 2005)

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April 2005, Re-introduction News No. 24
Malaysia gaur in situ conservation: re-introduction program

The gaur (Bos gaurus) re-introduction program is being implemented in Peninsular Malaysia by the Department of Wildlife and National Parks Peninsular Malaysia (DWNP) following the IUCN/SSC Guidelines for Re-introductions developed by the Re-introduction Specialist Group of The World Conservation Union’s (IUCN) Species Survival Commission (SSC). The restocking program is to restock and re-establish a viable, free ranging population of gaur into its natural habitat using captive-bred stock. The Krau Wildlife Reserve (KWR) was selected as the first release site because besides being the gaur’s historical range, it is a protected wildlife reserve furnished with a well-designed management plan.

Krau Game Reserve was established under the Wild Animals and Birds Protection Enactment (1921) in 1923. In 1968, a Steven’s Report (1968) recommended that the Krau Game Reserve be renamed the Krau Wildlife Reserve. The management of the Krau Wildlife Reserve was then transferred from Pahang State Game Department to the Federal Game Department (Department of Wildlife and National Parks) in 1976 with the total area of 60,338 hectares (DWNP and DANCED, 2001).

The feasibility studies and preparation, which included field surveys, for the gaur re-introduction program began in early 2004. Secondary signs such as of bedding and feeding as well as footprints suggested the presence of a herd of gaurs, comprising 1 adult male, 3 adult females and 1 calf in the KWR. Under the restocking program, the DWNP plans to release 3 gaurs (1 male & 2 females) from the captive-bred stock in the Jenderack Selatan Wildlife Conservation Centre, Pahang. The inbreeding co-efficiencies of the potential offspring of these 3 gaurs were calculated based on the gaur studbook records. The values generated were relatively low. The gaur Conservation Awareness Increment Program for local communities was conducted amongst the Indigenous communities and the Malay Community. The construction of a 200 m x 200 m paddock in Jenderack Selatan Wildlife Conservation Center for monitoring and soft training of the 3 selected gaurs prior to the release was completed in early 2004 and is ready to be utilized for the restocking program. The release program commences in early 2005.

References

DWNP & DANCED, 2001. Krau Wildlife Reserve Management Plan 2002-2006. DNWP, Kuala Lumpur. Pp31.

Contributed by Dennis Ten Choon Yung & Siti Hawa Yatim, Department of Wildlife and National Parks, Malaysia. Email address: dennis@wildlife.gov.my / siti@wildlife.gov.my

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23rd March 2005, indianjungles.com
Gaur poisoned
Nagpur
 

Three persons have been detained by Forest authorities for allegedly poisoning eight Indian bison in Junona area of Chandrapur forest range in east Maharashtra.

"Apprently in an attempt to kill wild animals, including cheetals or sambhar, some persons allegedly poisoned these bison who came in search of water yesterday," according to sources at Forest Development Corporation of Maharashtra (FDCM), the authority, under whose jurisdiction the area falls.

Villagers who noticed the dead bison immediately informed the FDCM officials, the sources said.

Three persons from nearby Mohadi village were detained last evening for questioning and an FIR has been lodged, they said adding, offences under relevant sections of Wildlife Conservation Act have been registered against them.

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