Standing tall at only 75 cm at the shoulders, Anoa are the smallest wild buffalo species and are found only on the Indonesian islands of Sulawesi and Buton. . Their small dagger like horns are used to do battle over territory, both male and female Anoa have horns.
As well as being unsure about whether or not there are actually 2 separate species of Anoa, there are also a lot of other things that scientists don’t know about them. Anoa can be found living in dense forest and are hard to observe due to their elusive nature and so not much is known about how they live and behave in the wild. We do know that Anoa are herbivores. In the wild Anoa like to eat things like grass, ferns, leaves, fallen fruit and water plants.
Anoa have interesting digestive systems because they are ruminants, this means they have 4 sections to their stomach which help them to digest their food. Other species that are ruminants include wild and domestic cattle, giraffes, goats and deer. Scientists are still unsure what types of habitat Anoa prefer but we think that they like living in dense forest habitats, which might be lower down or in the mountains. They are sometimes also more common near to water where they may be seen wallowing in mud and water pools. They may have to find places like mineral licks or even areas with sea water to get important minerals. In the wild Anoa are normally found living on their own, though small groups of around five have been seen and it’s common to see mothers and their young living together. Males and females may also be found together when they are breeding. We think that they can breed from about 2-3 years old and normally give birth to one calf at a time. Young Anoa have a slightly more woolly coat that the adults.
There are estimated to be less than 2,500 fully grown Anoa in the wild which means they are at a very high risk of becoming extinct in the wild.
The main threats to Anoa are hunting for meat and the loss of their habitat.
They are losing their habitat because forests are being cleared for farming and mining which means that their populations are becoming split up, making it hard for them to move to new areas of forest and they pushed into smaller areas. This also makes it easier for poachers to get closer to where wild Anoa are living. Hunting is now thought to be the biggest threat to this species. Although their skulls and horns might be valued as trophies, mostly Anoa are hunted for their meat which might be eaten straight away or sold on to other people. Scientists have predicted that if hunting continues, the Anoa could soon be extinct in many places.
Whilst it is sad to think that these animals are declining, the good news is that many people are working hard to try to help them.
Zoos, governments and conservation organisations from around the world are working together to save the Anoa through a Global Species Management Plan.
The plan brings together experts from around the world and details of actions which will be taken to save the Anoa from extinction. Breeding them in zoos in Indonesia and across the world is a really important part of this plan.
It’s also really important to find out as much as we can about Anoa both in zoos and in the wild. Research is being done both in zoos and in the wild to help us fill these knowledge gaps. This research will help guide best practice in caring for and breeding these animals in zoos and support healthy populations to prevent the Anoa from going extinct. Working with communities and raising awareness of the threats Anoa face aims to reduce hunting and increase protection of wild populations. We also want people like you to know just how amazing and special Anoa are and that they are worth saving.
want to learn even more?
These tiny buffalo live in a variety of different habitats. Those horns may look cute but they can be very dangerous when used like daggers.