Bos sauveli Urbain, 1937

Kouprey, Grey ox, Indo-Chinese forest (archaic), Kouproh (archaic)



Taxonomy & Nomenclature

Synonym/s: Bibos sauveli Urbain, 1937; Novibos sauveli Urbain, 1937; Bos javanicus sauveli Urbain, 1937


Conservation Status


Last record: 1969; 1986 (Fisher & Blomberg, 2012)

IUCN RedList status: Critically Endangered (Possibly Extinct)


It is commonly stated that the last sighting of a Kouprey (Bos sauveli) was in 1983, but this almost certainly refers to a possible sighting in July 1982 as reported by (Thornback, 1983), the previous year (Peter Maas pers. comm., March 2012). No reports have been confirmed after 1969, although their number and veracity suggests that the species survived for at least a decade after the last known record. The species apparently always existed in very low population densities (Thornback, 1983), which would have predisposed it to extinction. Some hope is held out for its continued existence, as its distribution may have extended into neighbouring countries such as Laos PDR, but the few expeditions mounted to rediscover it have all failed to find it (e.g. Timmins, 2011) and it is most likely now extinct.





Anatomy & Morphology

Body mass: 791.32kg (Wimberly, 2023:SI:10)


Biology & Ecology




USNM 361392 (Wimberly, 2023:SI:6)

USNM 399379 (Wimberly, 2023:SI:6)



Many photos of wild killed kouprey can be seen here:


Vincennes Zoo specimen (1937-1940)

The first of two known captive animals, and the holotype of the species, was held by the Vincennes Zoo (Paris). French veterinarian Dr. René Sauvel was largely responsible for this, sending it to his friend Achille Urbain who was the head of the zoo, and the latter provided the scientific description of the species named in honour of Dr. Sauvel (Urbain, 1937). There are at least eight known photographs of the individual (photos 1 to 8), with the fourth possibly being rediscovered by the Instagram user animalpic_post. I have also come across the first photo (photo 1) which was described as an "antelope" but looks like the young bull as he arrived at the zoo in his crate in April 1937 (film and photo are dated 2 days apart, but probably relate to the same day). This has been backed up Melanie Nayyal, who has found that the banteng with which it might otherwise be confused with arrived at the zoo in a following year, and that the Kouprey did arrive in April 1937 (Urbain et al., 1939). Subsequently, a film depicting the young Kouprey and the gaur arriving at the zoo was brought to my attention by Andrew Vamvatsikos.


Film of the Vincennes Zoo specimen arriving (5 May 1937)

Above: Film brought to my attention by researcher Andrew Vamvatsikos.


Photos of the Vincennes Zoo specimen (7 May 1939-1940)


Above: a photo of the young bull as he arrived at the zoo on 7 April 1937. Keystone-France. Source:


Source: Borrel (2014:341), but first published by (Urbain, 1937a)


Above: an old postcard ("Kouprey d'Indochine"). Source:


Above: a newly discovered historical photo, found by Instagram user animalpic_post.


Source: McGeown (year?)


Above: photograph by Georges Broihanne in 1937. First published by (Urbain et al., 1939). Source:


Above: photographer unknown. Source: Edmond-Blanc (1947).


Above: silhouette of the holotype, taken by François Edmond-Blanc in June 1939. Source: Coolidge, 1940.


Film of wild kouprey herd (1951 or 1952)

"You are now seeing the complete version of the only known footage of Koupreys, taken from the documentary "Wild Cattle of Cambodia", by Dr. Charles Heizer Wharton in 1957, from several of his footages during an expedition to Cambodia in 1951"



The full documentary:


Wild female (1968)

Source: Pfeffer (1969:13)



Original scientific description:

Urbain, Achille. (1937a). Le kou prey ou boeuf gris cambodgien. Bull. Soc. Zool. Fr. 62(5): 305-307.


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