Skip to main content
  • Print publication year: 2014
  • Online publication date: December 2014

Chapter 14 - Kouprey Bos sauveli A. Urbain, 1937

from Part III - Species accounts


Genus: Bos Linnaeus, 1758

Species: Kouprey Bos sauveli A. Urbain, 1937

Names in other languages: French: Boeuf gris cambodgien; German: Kouprey; Spanish: Toro Cuprey; Italian: Kouprey

Other common names: Grey Ox, Cambodian Grey Ox, Indochinese Forest Ox.

Kouprey in Khmer language means ‘forest ox’.


The kouprey (Bos sauveli) is a little-known wild cattle species discovered in the nineteenth century in Northern Cambodia. Probably the first to mention this species was Campbell (1860), who described three species of wild cattle in Cambodia: the gaur, the banteng and a ‘black or blackish grey’ wild ox that frequently occurs ‘on the plains in herds of from 50 to 300 at a time’. Later, Dufossé (1918) gave additional information on the species, mentioned that the kouprey is endangered and suggested prohibiting its hunting in order to preserve the remaining populations. The species, Bos sauveli, was described by Urbain (1937) based on a young male caught in Preah Vihear Province of Cambodia and maintained in captivity at the Vincennes Zoo (France) until the 1940s. Urbain (1937) placed the kouprey with banteng and gaur into the subgenus Bibos. An adult male shot in Cambodia in 1939 was further described by Coolidge (1940), who considered the species sufficiently distinct to put it in the new genus Novibos. Subsequently, the validity of Novibos was questioned and the kouprey was returned to the genus Bos (Bohlken 1961a, 1961b; Pfeffer & Kim-San 1967; Groves 1981) or alternatively placed in the genus Bibos (e.g. Geraads 1992).

Recommend this book

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this book to your organisation's collection.

Ecology, Evolution and Behaviour of Wild Cattle
  • Online ISBN: 9781139568098
  • Book DOI:
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to *
Bohlken, H. (1961a). Allometrsiche Untersuchungen an den Schädeln asiatischerWildrinder. Z. Saügtierk. 26: 147–154.
Bohlken, H. (1961b). Der Kouprey, Bos (Bibos) sauveli. Urbain. Z. Säugtierk. 26: 193–254.
Campbell, J. (1860). Notes on the antiquities, natural history, &c. of Cambodia. Compiled from manuscripts of the late E. G. J. Forrest, Esq., and from information derived from the Rev. Dr. House, & c. J. Royal Geographical Society London 1860: 182–198.
Sarun, Chan (1985). Intervention de la delegation du Kampuchea. In Conserving Asia’s Natural Heritage. Ed. Thorsell, J. W.Gland: IUCN and Natural Resources.
Coolidge, H. J. (1940). The Indo-Chinese forest ox or Kouprey. Memoir of the Museum of Comparative Zoology Harvard 54: 421–531.
Huynh, Dang Huy & Anh, Pham Trong. (1988). Kouprey (Bos sauveli, Urbain 1937): Investigations on Vietnamese, Kampuchean and Laotian Territories. Hanoi: International Workshop on Kouprey Conservation Program.
Dioli, M. (1995). A clarification about the morphology of the horns of the female kouprey: a new unknown bovid species from Cambodia. Mammalia 59(4): 663–667.
Dufossé, M. (1918). Monographie de la circonscription résidentielle de Kompong-Thom. Saigon: Union Nguyen-Van-Cua.
Enderlein, P. (1976). Report from the Second Expedition to the Dongrak Mountain Range in Eastern Thailand in Search for Kouprey (Bos sauveli). Bangkok: FAO, Regional Office for Asia and the Far East.
Galbreath, G. J., Mordacq, J. C. & Weiler, F. H. (2006). Genetically solving a zoological mystery: was the kouprey (Bos sauveli) a feral hybrid?Journal of Zoology 270: 561–564.
Galbreath, G. J., Mordacq, J. C. & Weiler, F. H. (2007). An evolutionary conundrum involving kouprey and banteng: a response from Galbreath, Mordacq and Weiler. Journal of Zoology 271: 253–254.
Geraads, D. (1992). Phylogenetic analysis of the tribe Bovini (Mammalia, Artiodactyla). Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society 104: 193–207.
Gray, T. N. E. & Phan, C. (2011). Habitat preferences and activity patterns of the larger mammal community in Phnom Prich Wildlife Sanctuary, Cambodia. The Raffles Bulletin of Zoology 59(2): 311–318.
Grigson, C. (1988). Complex cattle. Letter to New Scientist, 4: 93–94.
Groves, C. P. (1981). Systematic relationships in the Bovini (Artiodactyla, Bovidae). Zeitschrift Fur Zoologische Systematik Und Evolutionsforschung 19: 264–278.
Grubb, P. (2005). Order Artiodactyla. In Mammal Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference. 3rd edition, Vol. 2, pp. 637–722. Eds. Wilson, D. E. & Reeder, D. M.Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press.
Handschuh, M. & Hassanin, A. (2013). Pure banteng Bos javanicus persist in southern Preah Vihear province, central Cambodia, despite apparent hybridisation with domestic cattle. Natural History Bulletin of the Siam Society 59: 57–60.
Hassanin, A. & Ropiquet, A. (2004). Molecular phylogeny of the tribe Bovini (Bovidae, Bovinae) and the taxonomic status of the kouprey, Bos sauveli Urbain 1937. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 33: 896–907.
Hassanin, A. & Ropiquet, A. (2007a). What is the taxonomic status of the Cambodian banteng (Bos javanicus) and does it have close genetic links with the kouprey (Bos sauveli)?Journal of Zoology 271: 246–252.
Hassanin, A. & Ropiquet, A. (2007b). Resolving a zoological mystery: the kouprey is a real species. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 274: 2849–2855.
Hassanin, A., Ropiquet, A., Cornette, R., et al. (2006). Has the kouprey (Bos sauveli Urbain, 1937) been domesticated in Cambodia?C.R. Biologies 329: 124–135.
Hedges, S., Groves, C. P., Duckworth, J. W., Meijaard, E., Timmins, R. J. & Burton, J. A. (2007). Was the kouprey a feral hybrid? A response to Galbreath et al. (2006). Journal of Zoology 271: 242–245.
Hoffmann, R. S. (1986). A new locality record for the kouprey from Viet Nam, and an archaeological record from China. Mammalia 50(3): 391–395.
IUCN-SSC Asian Wild Cattle Specialist Group (2010). Regional Conservation Strategy for Wild Cattle and Buffaloes in South-east Asia. , accessed 8 April 2014.
IUCN (2013). IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. , accessed 1 April 2014.
Jackman, B. (1982). Alive! The ox from the past. Sunday Times 22 August, pp. 35.
Joseph, S. (2004). Husbandry Manual for Wild Cattle Species. Montgomery, MD: Bison, Buffalo and Cattle Taxon Advisory Group – American Zoo and Aquarium Association (AZA).
Lekagul, B. & McNeely, J. A. (1977). Mammals of Thailand. Bangkok: Association for the Conservation of Wildlife.
Khoi, Le Vu (1988). Kouprey (Bos sauveli, Urbain 1937), the current status of knowledge. Hanoi: International Workshop on Kouprey Conservation Program.
MacKinnon, J. R. (1986). Report of WWF Project 3696: Kouprey Status Survey. Mimeo. WWF.
MacKinnon, J. R. & Stuart, N. S. (1989). The Kouprey: An Action Plan for its Conservation. Gland: IUCN, SSC, WWF,.
McDermid, C. & Sokha, C. (2006). Search for the kouprey: trail runs cold for Cambodia’s national animal. Phnom Penh Post 15(8).
Melletti, M., Penteriani, V., Mirabile, M. & Boitani, L. (2007). Some behavioral aspects of forest buffalo (Syncerus caffer nanus): from herd to individual. Journal of Mammalogy 88: 1312–1323.
Neese, H. C. (1976a). The Kouprey (Bos sauveli): report on survey in southern Laos. Unpublished report.
Neese, H. C. (1976b). Kouprey clues and Rhino news. Wildlife 18(9): 40.
Pfeffer, P. (1969). Considérations sur l’écologie des forêts claires du Cambodge oriental. Terre et Vie 1: 3–24.
Pfeffer, P. & Kim-San, O. (1967). Le kouprey, Bos (Bibos) sauveli Urbain, 1937; discussion systématique et statut actuel. Hypothèse sur l’origine du zébu (Bos indicus). Mammalia 31: 521–536.
Sauvel, R. (1949). Distribution géographique du Kouprey (Bibos sauveli) Urbain. Mammalia 13: 144–148.
Sayer, J. A. (1983). Notes on the status and distribution of the larger mammals of Laos. Final report, Forest Management Project, Lao People’s Democratic Republic/Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Vietnam, Laos: FAO.
Suvanakorn, P. (1988). Kouprey in Thailand. Hanoi: International Workshop on Kouprey Conservation Program.
Thornback, J. (1983). Wild Cattle, Bison and Buffaloes: Their Status and Potential Value. Cambridge: The IUCN Conservation Monitoring Centre and Natural Resources.
Thouless, C. (1987). Kampuchea wildlife: survival against the odds. Oryx 21: 223–228.
Timmins, R. J. (2011). Searching for the Last Kouprey. Austin, TX: Global Wildlife Conservation, IUCN/SSC, AWCSG.
Timmins, R. J., Hedges, S. & Duckworth., J. W. (2008). Bos sauveli. In IUCN 2012. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2012.2. , accessed 15 April 2013.
Viet, Tran Hong, Tuoc, Do & Giao, Pham Mong (1988). Kouprey Habitat in Vietnam. Hanoi: International Workshop on Kouprey Conservation Program.
Urbain, A. (1937). Le Kou Prey ou boeuf gris cambodgien. Bulletin de la Société zoologique de France 62: 305–307.
Vietmeyer, N. (1983). Little-known Asian animals with a Promising Economic Future. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.
Vithayanon, C. & Bhumpakphan, N. (2004). Historical distribution range of the Kouprey from three fossil locality sites in north Northeastern Thailand. Journal Wildlife of Thailand 12: 214–216.
Weiler, H., Kimmchay, H., Kimsan, O., Masphal, K., Polin, S. & Seiha, U. (1998). Distribution of Tiger, Leopard, Elephant, and Wild Cattle (Gaur, Banteng, Buffalo, Khting vor and Kouprey) in Cambodia. Pehnom Penh: Cat Action Treasury and Wildlife Protection Office.
Westing, A. H. & Westing, C. E. (1980). Endangered species of Viet Nam. Unpublished report.
Wharton, C. H. (1957). An Ecological Study of the Kouprey Novibos sauveli (Urbain). Manila: Bureau of Printing.
Wharton, C. H. (1968). Man, fire and cattle in Southeast Asia. Proceedings of the Annual Tall Timbers Fire Ecology Conference 8: 107–167.
Wilson, D. E. & Mittermeier, R. A. (2011). Handbook of the Mammals of the World. Vol. 2. Hoofed Mammals. Barcelona: Lynx Edicions.
WWF (1982). World’s oldest wild cattle believed rediscovered in Southeast Asia, landmines hamper search. World Wildlife Fund News Release 12/82.