The banteng is a species of wild cattle found in Southeast Asia. It is considered to be one of the most beautiful and graceful of all wild cattle species. Males and females look different. Males are blue-black or dark chestnut in color, while females and young are chestnut with a dark dorsal stripe. Both males and females have white stockings on their lower legs, a white rump, a white muzzle, and white spots above the eyes. Bantengs are similar in size to domesticated cattle but have a comparatively slender neck and small head, and a ridge on the back above the shoulders. The horns of females are short and tightly curved, pointing inward at the tips, while those of males arc upwards, and are connected by a horn-like bald patch on the forehead.
Bantengs are found in Southeast Asia. They occur in such countries as Indonesia, Cambodia, Myanmar, Malaysia, Thailand, and Viet Nam. They inhabit open dry deciduous forests, tropical moist forests, and seasonal freshwater swamp forest. They also can be found on open grassland, mature timber plantations, and abandoned cultivated land.
Bantengs are usually active both night and day, but in places where humans are common, they mostly tend to be more active during the night. They are social creatures and gather in herds of 2 to 30 members. Each herd contains only one adult bull. In order to strengthen the bonds with the other individuals in the herd bantengs often lick each other. If threatened these animals will thump the ground with their front hooves and if they are disturbed bantengs usually snort.
Bantengs have a polygynous mating system. Each herd has only one male who has access to all the females within this herd. The breeding season occurs from May to June. Females give birth to one calf after a gestation period of 9.5 months. Calves are born fully developed and can stand and walk shortly after birth. Mothers protect and nurse their young for 6-9 months after their birth. Both males and females reach reproductive maturity when they are 2-3 years old.
Main threats to Bantengs include habitat loss, hunting for meat, horns and trophy heads, hybridization with domesticated cattle, and infections with cattle diseases.
According to the IUCN Red List, the total population size of bantengs is around 8,000 individuals. Around 4,600 individuals occur in eastern Cambodia. Currently, bantengs are classified as Endangered (EN) on the IUCN Red List and their numbers today are decreasing.
Due to their grazing and browsing habits, bantengs hugely impact the ecosystems in which they live.
Bantengs have been domesticated in several places in Southeast Asia. There are around 1.5 million domestic bantengs, which are called Bali cattle. They are used as working animals and for their meat. Bantengs have also been introduced to Northern Australia, where they have established stable feral populations. They all currently live within the Garig Gunak Barlu National Park. As of 2007, the initial population had grown from only 20 in 1849 to 8,000-10,000 individuals and is used exclusively for sports hunting and by Aboriginal subsistence hunters.