Kouprey

The kouprey has long been considered a lost jewel of the dry forests. No confirmed sighting has been made for years, and there are fears it may now be extinct.

Skull of a kouprey being measured by WWF scientists rel=
Skull of a kouprey being measured by WWF scientists
© WWF-Canon

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Key Facts

  • Common Names

    Kouprey, grey ox

  • Scientific Name

    Bos sauveli

  • Status

    Critically Endangered (A2d C1+2a(i)); CITES Appendix I

    IUCN

  • Geographic Location

    Indochina

Physical Description
The kouprey is a wild forest-dwelling ox with a tall narrow body, either grey, dark brown, or black in colour.

Size
Height: up to 2m at the shoulder
Weight: average 900kg

Population and Distribution
The only significant scientific observation of the Kouprey was made in 1957 when zoologist Charles Wharton studied and filmed the animal in the wild. Since that time, however, there have been few verified sightings of the animal. IUCN believes it likely that the kouprey is now extinct, with at best under 50 mature individuals remaining. This number does not represent a viable population.

Threats
The wars in Indochina contributed to the decimation of the Kouprey population. Evidence of human disturbance including logging and agricultural development is also widespread in its habitats.

However, hunting, especially for subsistence and for trade (horns and skulls) has been the major contribution to the downfall of this species. Sadly, the only confirmed sighting of a kouprey in recent years has been the skull and horns offered for sale in local markets - at very high prices.

What is WWF doing?

WWF works throughout the region to preserve species like the kouprey and to protect vital habitat.

It also works to curb illegal wildlife trade by increasing controls, improving regulations and raising awareness.
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    • Prince Sihanouk of Cambodia designated the Kouprey as country's national animal in 1960.
    • The name kouprey is derived from the Khmer language and means forest ox.

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