An unique ex situ conservation of timor deer in West Nusa Tenggara Province, Indonesia

“Ex situ conservation is the technique of conservation of all levels of biological diversity outside their natural habitats through different techniques like zoo, captive breeding, aquarium, botanical garden, and gene bank”

Kasso and Balakrishnan, 2013


In Indonesia, the timor deer or Javan deer (Rusa timorensis) is categorized as a protected animal (Government ordinance no. 8/ 1999) and the population trend in nature is decreasing because of habitat loss and poaching. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) red list, the conservation status of this animal is vulnerable.

To sustain the timor deer population, the government carry out two types of conservation; ex situ and in situ conservation programs. The in-situ conservation programs are carried out in national parks and wildlife reserves, meanwhile the ex situ conservation is run by the zoos and by local people/ society.


Timor deer in Baluran national park (Photo credit: Kompas)


Deer in the zoo (Photo credit: Klikpositif)

West Nusa Tenggara province (Nusa Tenggara Barat) is one of two provinces in between Wallace-Weber line that has a long history with timor deer, even this animal has become the logo of this province (flagship species). People there are interested to captivate timor deer because of two reasons; hobby and pride (Utomo and Hasan, 2014). The form of ex situ conservation of timor deer by local people may be not common in other countries, but in Indonesia, it is legal as long as the breeder fulfills the requirements as it is set by forestry ministerial regulation. This regulation is attempting to bridge the social value and conservation value amid the society.

Fig. 3. The logo of West Nusa Tenggara Province (Photo credit: birulautntb)

The logo of West Nusa Tenggara Province (Photo credit: birulautntb)

The roles of self-supporting captive breeding for timor deer conservation

The one aim of timor deer ex situ conservation is to breed this ruminant animal, which then the mature ones will be reintroduced to the nature. The concept of self-supporting timor deer captivity is that deer from the first and second generation (F0 and F1) are owned by the government, although in practice, they are captivated by the breeders. The breeders can only harness the further generations (F2 and so on), like for trading or venison harvesting. It is obligatory for each breeder to start the captivity from F0, even when they get or buy a deer from the third generation from another captivity.

Through this scheme, society directly helps the government to provide mature deer for reintroduction program. Another benefit of captive breeding is a medium to educate school-age generations about the importance of conservation.

The self-supporting deer captivity (Photo credit to the author)

Self-supporting deer captivity (Photo credit to the author)

Fig. 5. An effective way to teach children for caring the wildlife (Photo credit: Kompasiana)

An effective way to teach children for caring the wildlife (Photo credit: Kompasiana)

The improvements for self-supporting captive breeding 

The participation of society in ex situ conservation program is an invaluable capital. However, to ensure this program can contribute for biodiversity conservation, we need to improve its management system. The one important factor of conservation program is systematic planning where it will be encompassed in the integrative action plan that consists of tagging, animal tracing, forage producing, genetic transfer, and trading system. Hopefully, through the developing of these systems, we can eradicate drawbacks from our current system, like illegal trading, untraceable animal record, in breeding, and lack of forage in the dry season.

Tagged deer (Photo credit: Brett Young/NIST)

Tagged deer (Photo credit: Brett Young/NIST)

Land preparation for forage production (Photo credit to the author)

Land preparation for forage resources plantation (Photo credit to the author)

Marcellinus Utomo (u5710645), word count 497


About Biodiversity Conservation Blog

I am an Associate Professor at The Australian National University and convene a (very awesome) course called Biodiversity Conservation. Myself and students in the course contribute to this blog.
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One Response to An unique ex situ conservation of timor deer in West Nusa Tenggara Province, Indonesia

  1. Chloe says:

    An interesting blog – and an interesting strategy! I’d be interested to know the success of this type of ex situ conservation and how it compares with success of other ex situ conservation efforts both in Indonesia – and globally. Could this type of conservation be used to inform how ex situ conservation is undertaken in other countries?

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