The lowland anoa is the smallest species of wild cattle, and it is considered the most primitive, similar to ancestors that lived more than 5 million years ago. There are two species of anoa: the lowland and the mountain. Anoas are closely related to Asian water buffalo and are sometimes called “dwarf buffalo.”
Unlike other cattle, anoas are largely solitary. Shy and primarily nocturnal, they browse in swampy areas, often feeding on aquatic plants and they are good swimmers. Anoas typically take time during the day to wallow in mud or a pool of water. They then take cover in thick undergrowth to keep cool while they chew their cud. Some anoas have been observed drinking seawater in order to fulfill their mineral needs, but many visit mineral springs, which can also present the opportunity to find potential mates.
Although anoas look docile, they can violently attack when they feel threatened. Young bulls during the breeding season or females with their young are especially dangerous. Their horns are sharp and can disembowel an animal, including other anoas. Lowland anoas are endangered, with fewer than 2,500 individuals remaining in the wild in Indonesia. Their shrinking numbers are a result of being hunted for meat and their horns, which are made into souvenirs or used for traditional medicine. Their habitat is being destroyed, cleared for lumber, agriculture, and gold mining.
Despite their legal protection in Indonesia since 1931, Lowland anoas are an endangered species. Their shrinking numbers are a result of being hunted for their meat and the ongoing destruction of their habitat.Sadly, Sulawesi’s many reserves are ineffective in protecting the lowland anoa.
Anoas are found only on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi. Lowland anoas live in moist forests and swampy areas. They also seem to prefer pristine, undisturbed forest, more so than any other Asian cattle.
Herbivores, they eat aquatic plants, grasses, ferns, fallen fruit, and ginger. They have also been seen eating moss, which may be for hydration as well as nutrition.
Lowland anoas have stocky bodies. They weigh as much as six hundred and sixty pounds, yet measure only thirty-one to thirty-nine inches tall and have a body length of just sixty-six to seventy-three inches. Adults have straight, black hair that is thinly scattered over most of their body, except for a few interesting white markings. Their forelegs are white or pale yellow from the knees down and their hind legs have some obvious white spotting above the hooves. Some also have a white crescent shaped marking over their throat. Another feature of the lowland anoa is their short, triangular, horns which have ridged edges. The males’ horns measure ten to fourteen inches tall and are longer than the females’ horns which are seven to ten inches tall. The lowland anoa’s tail is relatively long as compared to the tail of their relative, the mountain anoa.
Lifespan is 20 to 30 years.