Thursday, 16 April 2009

KOUPREY KAPERS


Let us start from the off by saying this: Bovids are cool. My personal favorities are the large wild species like Bison, Indian Water Buffalo and Guar, but the most interesting from a crypto point of view are Kouprey, a huge species from (mainly) Cambodia growing just shy of one ton for a bull.

They live primarily in deep forests, and their thin bodies are an adaptation for moving through dense woodland. Like most large bovids, they are diurnal and only feed in the daytime. They are not closely related to any other species of wild ox, but they are placed in the genus Bos (species sauveli) along with most wild cattle. The males have a huge dewlap which is probably used in sexual selection: for Kouprey this works better than large horns (although, the male’s horns are faily large) for attracing a mate, because the thin dewlap helps the male move in dense forest; horns would get in the way!

As the worlds rarest large mammal, they are a critically endangered species. Only 250 are thought to remain in the wild: although some people claim that they have not been observed since 1957 (possibly 1983) tracks and skulls for sale on local markets can help to esimate the population. The IUCN has this to say about the species:

“This species is listed as Critically Endangered (Possibly Extinct). The total population is unknown, and the species is most likely to be extinct. At most, there could only a few individuals remaining, certainly many less than 250 mature individuals, and almost certainly less than 50 mature individuals. The high level of hunting in the region has led to a significant decline, estimated at over 80% in the last 30 years”

They are thought to live in Vietnam where a group of park rangers spotted what may have been 3 Kouprey (but could have been a small group of Banteng or Guar) with the forward pointing horns typical of the species. The Vietnam group supposedly gets much larger than the Cambodian (up to 1.5 tons), putting it in a position to get the title for the “worlds largest Bovid”, beating the Guar by a few hundred kilogrames. It has however not been cirtified that this group exists, so more researech needs to be done in the area.

The Kouprey sat in a small grey zone for a while after it was discovered that the species shares an awful lot of DNA with the Banteng (anoher species of wild ox), such that the scientists who made the discovery asserted that the mating between the Banteng and probably the Zebu could only have occurred in the last 50 years, perhaps to produce a new variant of very tough cattle to survive in harsh conditions. This view was very trendy for a while, until someone unearthed a Kouprey skull just under 100,000 years old.

The hybrid argument was dropped.

The Kouprey is interesting to us cryptozoologists because it was only discovered in 1937. Why on earth the Okapi is trotted out so ofen as being a very large species of mammal which survived until the 20th century without having being “discovered” by science, when the Kouprey is 4 times the size, and was first described 36 years later, I just don’t know!


The other interesting point is that there is supposedly a smaller species/regional variant which is hinted at on some webpages, but despite my best efforts I just can’t find anything on it at all. The main reason for writing this is so that I could show you this cracking video which I found by fluke. (when and how it was taken when the creatures have allegedly not been seen for fifty two years I cannot say) Enjoy!

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