Bos sauvelikouprey

Geographic Range

Kouprey, Bos sauveli, once ranged from Kampuchea to the Dongrak Mountains of eastern Thailand, southern Laos, and western Vietnam. They are currently considered likely to be extinct, with the only possible individuals surviving in small portions of eastern Cambodia, where there are some poorly protected regions. (Hoffmann, 1986; Timmins, et al., 2008)


Kouprey are found in open forest and savannas, often near thick monsoon forests. This kind of habitat is created by natural forest disturbance and slash-and-burn agriculture. (Massicot, 2002)

Physical Description

An adult kouprey ranges in shoulder height from 170 to 190 cm. The head and body length measurements range from 210 to 223 cm. The tail reaches a length of 100 cm and the average adult weighs between 680 and 910Kg. Bulls have a dewlap (skin fold that hangs from the neck) which distinguishes this species from other wild cattle, and horns that split and fray at the tips at around three years of age. The horns of males can reach up to 80 cm in length. Female kouprey also have horns, about half the length of male's horns, but theirs spiral upwards. Both males and females have notched nostrils. Kouprey young are reddish in color, but become more gray by five to six months of age. The young have lighter colored legs. Adult males are dark brown or black. (Hoffmann, 1986; Huffman, 2004; Kemf, 1988; Massicot, 2002)

  • Sexual Dimorphism
  • male larger
  • sexes shaped differently
  • ornamentation
  • Range mass
    681 to 910 kg
    1500.00 to 2004.41 lb
  • Range length
    223 to 210 cm
    87.80 to 82.68 in


There is little information available on mating systems in kouprey. Their sexual dimorphism suggests some level of polygyny. In other bovids, males often compete for females and successful males are polygynous. It is likely that this species is similar.

Kouprey mate in the spring and calve in the winter (typically December or January). Female kouprey have marked low fertility. The mother leaves the herd to give birth, and returns about a month after giving birth to a single young. The gestation period is 8 to 9 months. (Huffman, 2004; Kemf, 1988)

  • Breeding interval
    These animals are thought to breed annually.
  • Breeding season
    Mating occurs in the spring.
  • Range number of offspring
    1 (low)
  • Average number of offspring
  • Average number of offspring
  • Range gestation period
    8 to 9 months

There is little data on the parental care habits of kouprey. As in other mammals, the female provides the bulk of parental care, producing milk for the young, grooming it, and protecting it from danger. Male parental care has not been noted.

  • Parental Investment
  • no parental involvement
  • pre-fertilization
    • protecting
      • female
  • pre-hatching/birth
    • provisioning
      • female
    • protecting
      • female
  • pre-weaning/fledging
    • provisioning
      • female
    • protecting
      • female
  • pre-independence
    • protecting
      • female


Kouprey have a lifespan of about 20 years. Lifespan is limited by hunting, inbreeding, and disease. (Massicot, 2002)

  • Average lifespan
    Status: wild
    20 years


Kouprey have adapted a nocturnal lifestyle apparently as a means of avoiding humans. Kouprey retreat to the forest to escape the hot sun and emerge into the fields in the evening. Female led herds, which includes the bulls during the dry season, reach twenty individuals. Kouprey are described as active and restless. They dig in the ground and thrust into tree stumps, which causes the fraying of the male horns. They are more alert when compared to banteng and also run more gracefully. Kouprey have been seen mixing with banteng and water buffalo. They frequent salt licks and water holes, and roam up to 15 kilometers per night while grazing. The herds seperate and rejoin frequently. (Huffman, 2004; Kemf, 1988)

Home Range

The home range size for these animals has not been reported.

Communication and Perception

There is little known regarding kouprey communication. However, as mammals, they are likely to use some visual signals and body postures in communication. Scent is likely to play some role, especially in identifying mates and offspring. Bovids typically vocalize to one another. Tactile communication is probably important in competition and between a mother and her offspring.

Food Habits

Kouprey graze on grasses, including bamboo (Arundinella species), ploong (Arundinella setosa) and koom (Chloris species). They frequent salt licks and water holes. (Hoffmann, 1986; Huffman, 2004)

  • Plant Foods
  • leaves
  • roots and tubers


The only known predator of the kouprey is humans. Kouprey have adapted a nocturnal behavior to avoid human predation. (Hendrix, 1995; Huffman, 2004; Massicot, 2002)

Ecosystem Roles

Kouprey provide food for humans who share their range. They share ranges with banteng (Bos javanicus) and water buffalo (Bubalus bubalis), there may be some competition for food between these species. (Hendrix, 1995)

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Kouprey have been used as food, although they are protected by CITES Appendix I. Kouprey are also thought to be very genetically diverse and immune to certain pests that plague domestic cattle in this region. Cross-breeding between kouprey and domestic cattle could potentially reduce disease. Kouprey horn and gall bladder is considered useful in traditional medicine, but there are no documented benefits of kouprey parts for humans. (Heinen, 1996; Hendrix, 1995; Kemf, 1988)

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

There are no known adverse affects of kouprey on humans.

Conservation Status

Kouprey are likely to be extinct. Recent survey efforts have been unsuccessful finding live kouprey, although some horns have been found in markets. High levels of hunting in the last 30 years resulted in at least an 80% decline in population numbers. If any kouprey remain, there are most likely to be less than 50 mature individuals. Given these very small numbers and no abatement to intense hunting and poaching pressure, kouprey are in dire danger or imminent extinction. The IUCN redlist considers then Critically Endangered, possibly extinct. With the fall of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, markets for bushmeat and trophies surged, resulting in intense pressure on all large mammals in the region. If any individuals remain, they are likely to be in small portions of eastern Cambodia, where there are some protected areas. There are no individuals in captivity. (Heinen, 1996; Hendrix, 1995; Hoffmann, 1986; Huffman, 2004; Kemf, 1988; Massicot, 2002)

Other Comments

There is fossil evidence that kouprey once resided in central China. In 1964, Prince Sihanouk of Cambodia declared the kouprey to be the national animal. It is interesting to note the struggle that has been going on to obtain information on this elusive animal. Many search parties have been formed only to come back empty handed, and with rarely even a photograph. The fear that kouprey may have gone extinct is diminished by the finding of horns in markets, the occasional discovery of sign by researchers, and the sightings by locals. There has been only one captive animal (caught by mistake), the original specimen of Bos sauveli. This animal unfortunately died during World War I of starvation. (Heinen, 1996; Hendrix, 1995; Hoffmann, 1986; Huffman, 2004; Kemf, 1988; Massicot, 2002)


Nancy Shefferly (editor), Animal Diversity Web.

Jill Winker (author), University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, Chris Yahnke (editor, instructor), University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.



uses sound to communicate


living in landscapes dominated by human agriculture.

bilateral symmetry

having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.


uses smells or other chemicals to communicate

dominance hierarchies

ranking system or pecking order among members of a long-term social group, where dominance status affects access to resources or mates


a substance used for the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease


animals that use metabolically generated heat to regulate body temperature independently of ambient temperature. Endothermy is a synapomorphy of the Mammalia, although it may have arisen in a (now extinct) synapsid ancestor; the fossil record does not distinguish these possibilities. Convergent in birds.


an animal that mainly eats leaves.


A substance that provides both nutrients and energy to a living thing.


forest biomes are dominated by trees, otherwise forest biomes can vary widely in amount of precipitation and seasonality.


An animal that eats mainly plants or parts of plants.


offspring are produced in more than one group (litters, clutches, etc.) and across multiple seasons (or other periods hospitable to reproduction). Iteroparous animals must, by definition, survive over multiple seasons (or periodic condition changes).


having the capacity to move from one place to another.

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.


active during the night


generally wanders from place to place, usually within a well-defined range.


found in the oriental region of the world. In other words, India and southeast Asia.

World Map

seasonal breeding

breeding is confined to a particular season


reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female

sexual ornamentation

one of the sexes (usually males) has special physical structures used in courting the other sex or fighting the same sex. For example: antlers, elongated tails, special spurs.


associates with others of its species; forms social groups.


uses touch to communicate


Living on the ground.


the region of the earth that surrounds the equator, from 23.5 degrees north to 23.5 degrees south.

tropical savanna and grassland

A terrestrial biome. Savannas are grasslands with scattered individual trees that do not form a closed canopy. Extensive savannas are found in parts of subtropical and tropical Africa and South America, and in Australia.


A grassland with scattered trees or scattered clumps of trees, a type of community intermediate between grassland and forest. See also Tropical savanna and grassland biome.

temperate grassland

A terrestrial biome found in temperate latitudes (>23.5° N or S latitude). Vegetation is made up mostly of grasses, the height and species diversity of which depend largely on the amount of moisture available. Fire and grazing are important in the long-term maintenance of grasslands.


uses sight to communicate


reproduction in which fertilization and development take place within the female body and the developing embryo derives nourishment from the female.


Heinen, J. 1996. Status and Protection of Asian Wild Cattle and Buffalo. Conservation Biology, 10/4: 931-934.

Hendrix, S. 1995. Quest for the Kouprey. International Wildlife Magazine, Sep/Oct. Accessed (Date Unknown) at

Hoffmann, R. 1986. A New Locality Record for the Kouprey from Viet-Nam, and an Archaeological Record from China. Mammalia, 3/50: 391-395.

Huffman, B. 2004. "Kouprey" (On-line). The Ultimate Ungulate. Accessed April 27, 2004 at

Kemf, E. 1988. Fighting for the Forest Ox. New Scientist, 30: 51-53.

Massicot, P. 2002. "Animal Info" (On-line ). Accessed 11-15-02 at

Timmins, R., S. Hedges, J. Duckworth. 2008. "Bos sauvelis" (On-line). IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2009.1. Accessed September 15, 2009 at