|Common Name||kouproh, grey ox|
Kouprey (Bos sauveli), also known as kouproh or grey ox, is a wild, forest-dwelling ox found mainly in northern Cambodia, but also believed to exist in southern Laos, western Vietnam, and eastern Thailand. It became known to zoologists in 1937.
Koupreys are believed to be a close relative to both the aurochs and the gaur. A very large ungulate, the Kouprey can approach similar sizes to the wild Asian water buffalo. These bovids measure 2.1 to 2.3 m (6.9 to 7.5 ft) along the head and body, not counting a 1 m (3.3 ft) tail, and stand 1.7–1.9 m (5.6–6.2 ft) high at the shoulder. Their weight is reportedly from 680 to 910 kg (1,500 to 2,000 lb). Unverified reports of a body mass up to 1,700 kg (3,700 lb) from Vietnam are considered dubious, since they far exceed other recorded weights for the species.
Kouprey have tall, but narrow, bodies, long legs and humped backs. They can be either grey, dark brown or black. The horns of the female are lyre-shaped with antelope-like upward spirals. The horns of the male are wide and arch forward and upward, and they begin to fray at the tips at about three years of age. Both sexes have notched nostrils and long tails.
Kouprey live in low, partially forested hills, where they eat mainly grasses. They are diurnal, eating in the open at night and under the forest cover during the day. They live in herds of up to 20, generally consisting of only cows and calves, but also bulls during the dry season.
There are estimated to be fewer than 50 kouprey left in the world. These low numbers are attributed to uncontrolled hunting by locals and soldiers, in conjunction with diseases introduced from cattle and loss of habitat.
However, no kouprey have been sighted since 1983, and during the last decade, several searches for the animal have proven fruitless. The 2008 IUCN report lists the kouprey as critically endangered (possibly extinct).
There is no captive population. The only individual in a western zoo was sent to the Vincennes Zoo at Paris in 1937; that was the individual designated as the holotype by Urbain. It died early in World War II.
Relation to other species
Research published by Northwestern University in London's Journal of Zoology indicated a comparison of mitochondrial sequences showed the kouprey might be a hybrid between a zebu and a banteng. However, the authors of this study have rescinded their conclusion, and because a fossilized skull was found dating from the late Pleistocene or early Holocene epoch, they concluded the kouprey is not a hybrid. More recent genetic analysis has supported this position.