Indonesia: Forest Loss Blamed for Animal Attack Death

Dwi Lusiana Jakarta Globe 28 Sep 11;

Malang, East Java. After a farmer was gored to death by a species of wild cattle, an animal protection group said a drastic decline in habitat may have pushed the animal into a populated area, and an inadvertent confrontation.

Sutini, 48, was tending her clove trees in Malang’s Lenggoksono hamlet on Monday when she was attacked by a banteng . She died at the scene after being gored in the neck and stomach.

According to ProFauna, which works to protect wildlife and their habitat, illegal logging in the Sumbertangkil Lenggoksono protected forest has led to shortages of food and shelter for banteng, which are endangered in the wild.

The number of wild banteng in the area fell from 20 animals in 1990 to just five when data was last collected, in 2001.

Rosek Nursahid, chairman of ProFauna, said the animal that killed Sutini had most likely come down from the protected forest looking for food.

“The fact that this animal came down from the forest shows that the population in Sumbertangkil Lenggoksono is not yet extinct. The government needs to take immediate steps to fix the damage to the forest and let residents know about this,” he said.

“The community needs to be aware of the presence of the banteng, which are not savage beasts. This is important to prevent any further conflict.”

Banteng are recognized as an endangered species by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.

Wild Javan banteng can still be found in Baluran National Park in Banyuwangi, East Java, but their numbers are thought to have declined by 90 percent over the past 20 years because of habitat destruction.

Sutomo, an Indonesian Red Cross official in Malang, said Sutini’s goring death was the first known case in the area.

He speculated that the red scarf Sutini was wearing at the time of the attack may have angered the banteng, which reportedly appeared without warning from dense forest.

“Maybe it was afraid when it saw the residents’ homes, but whatever the reason the banteng ran around in a panic,” said Sutomo, who helped transfer Sutini’s body to the hospital.

After bringing the wayward banteng down, residents slaughtered the animal and distributed its meat among residents of the hamlet.