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Animal Info - Kouprey

(Other Names: 考布利牛, 高棉牛, コウプレー, Boeuf Gris Cambodgien, Cambodian Forest Ox, Grey Ox, Indo-Chinese Forest Ox, Toro Cuprey)

Bos sauveli (Bibos or Novibos s.)

Status: Critically Endangered


Contents

1. Profile (Picture)
2. Tidbits
3. Status and Trends (IUCN Status, Countries Where Currently Found, Population Estimates, History of Distribution, Threats and Reasons for Decline)
4. Data on Biology and Ecology (Weight, Habitat, Gestation Period, Birth Season, Early Development, Maximum Age, Diet, Behavior, Social Organization)
5. References


Profile

Pictures: Kouprey #1 (21 Kb JPEG); Kouprey #2 (65 Kb GIF) 

The kouprey is a forest ox weighing 680 - 910 kg (1500 - 2000 lb). It inhabits low, rolling hills, covered by open country interrupted with patches of dry forest and adjacent to denser monsoon forest. Its diet consists mostly of grasses. Salt licks and water holes are important habitat requirements. The kouprey is diurnal, grazing in open areas during the day, and entering the forest for shelter from the sun, for refuge from predators, and to seek food when the grasslands are dry. It lives in herds of up to 20, which generally contain cows and their calves but can include bulls during the dry season.

The kouprey became known to Western science only in 1937. Since that time, its range has been centered in northern and eastern Cambodia. It also occurred in southern Laos, eastern Thailand, western Vietnam, and possibly southern China. Between the 1940's and the 1960's it experienced a marked numerical decline. By 1970 there were fears that it might have become extinct, mainly because of military action. However, by 1986 it was believed still to occur in the southernmost provinces of Laos, the Dongrak mountains of eastern Thailand and the western edge of Vietnam, with its distribution centered on the northern plains of Cambodia. The kouprey has not been observed since 1988, but it is thought to persist based on the occasional finding of tracks and of skulls for sale in local markets.

The major reason for the kouprey's decline has been uncontrolled hunting by local inhabitants and by the military. Other factors include disease transmitted from domestic stock and loss of habitat due to illegal logging and slash-and-burn agriculture. (It should be noted that the kouprey always seems to have been rare, occurring with naturally low population densities.)


Tidbits

*** The kouprey is one of the world's rarest mammals.

*** Prince Sihanouk of Cambodia designated the kouprey as the country's national animal in 1960.

*** As of 1995, a 1952 field study of only 2 months duration was the sole source of ecological data on the kouprey.

*** It is believed that the kouprey may be immune to rinderpest.

*** When the bulls are about 3 years old, the horns split at the tip, and as the horns grow larger the split pieces also continue to grow.  This fraying of the horn tips is said to be caused largely by their being used for digging into the ground or thrusting into tree stumps. (Nowak 1999)


Status and Trends

IUCN Status:

  • 1960's - 1994: Endangered
  • 1996 - 2004: Critically Endangered (Criteria: A2d, C1+2a, D) (Population Trend: Decreasing) (IUCN 2004)

Countries Where the Kouprey Is Currently Found:

2004: Occurs in Cambodia.  May be extinct in Laos, Thailand and Vietnam. (IUCN 2004)

Population Estimates:

[Note: Figures given are for wild populations only.]

History of Distribution:

The kouprey became known to Western science only in 1937. Since that time, its range has been centered in northern and eastern Cambodia. It also occurred in southern Laos, eastern Thailand, western Vietnam, and possibly southern China. Between the 1940's and the 1960's it experienced a marked numerical decline. By 1970 there were fears that it might have become extinct, mainly because of military action. However, in 1974 it was found still to be present in Cambodia and Laos, and by 1976 in Thailand as well. By 1986 it was believed to occur in the southernmost provinces of Laos, the Dongrak mountains of eastern Thailand and the western edge of Vietnam, with its distribution centered on the northern plains of Cambodia. The kouprey has not been observed since 1988, but it is thought to persist based on the occasional finding of tracks and of skulls for sale in local markets (Nowak 1999).

Distribution Map (5 Kb GIF) (Huffman 2004)

Threats and Reasons for Decline:

The major reason for the kouprey's decline has been uncontrolled hunting by local inhabitants and by the military, especially during the three-decades-long series of wars and insurgencies in Indochina. Other factors include disease transmitted from domestic stock and loss of habitat due to illegal logging and slash-and-burn agriculture. (It should be noted that the kouprey always seems to have been rare, occurring with naturally low population densities.)


Data on Biology and Ecology

Weight:

The kouprey weighs 680 - 910 kg (1500 - 2000 lb).

Habitat:

The kouprey inhabits low, rolling hills, covered by a mosaic of open forest (dry dipterocarp forest) and savannah adjacent to denser monsoon forest, a habitat that has been largely created by slash-and-burn agriculture.

The kouprey is one of the species that live in both the Indo-Burma Biodiversity Hotspot (Cons. Intl. 2005) and the Eastern Indochina Dry & Monsoon Forests Global 200 Ecoregion. (Olson & Dinerstein 1998, Olson & Dinerstein 1999)

Gestation Period:

8 - 9 months.

Birth Season:

Mating occurs in April, with births in December and January.

Early Development:

A mother and young may stay away from the herd for about a month.

Maximum Age:

About 20 years.

Diet:

Mostly grasses. Salt licks and water holes are important habitat requirements.

Behavior:

The kouprey is diurnal, grazing in open areas during the day, and entering the forest for shelter from the sun, for refuge from predators, and to seek food when the grasslands are dry. It is both a grazer and a browser.

Social Organization:

The kouprey lives in herds of up to 20, which generally contain cows and their calves but can include bulls during the dry season. The herds are not particularly cohesive.


References

Burton & Pearson 1987, Cons. Intl. 2005, Curry-Lindahl 1972, Fitter 1974, Focus 1997b, Hendrix 1995, Huffman 2004, Humphrey & Bain 1990, IUCN 1968, IUCN 1994, IUCN 1996, IUCN 2000, IUCN 2003a, IUCN 2004, IUCN 2002, Lekagul 1967, Macdonald 1984, Nowak 1999, Nowak & Paradiso 1983, Olson & Dinerstein 1998, Olson & Dinerstein 1999, Oryx 1974c, Oryx 1976, Oryx 1986d, Oryx 1988b, Thouless 1987, Univ. Hohenheim, WCMC 1994, WCMC et al. 2000, WCMC/WWF 1997


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Last modified: October 29, 2005;

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