Lowland anoa (Bubalus depressicornis)

Male lowland anoa
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Lowland anoa fact file

Lowland anoa description

GenusBubalus (1)

This small water buffalo is found in Indonesia (2). Indeed, ‘anoa’ is the Sulawesi word for ‘buffalo’. This species is characterised by its stocky body and thick, dark skin which is darker in males than females (4). The body is sparsely covered with brown to blackish hair and the forelegs bear white or yellowish white hair. The nape and throat are also a pale yellow-white colour (4). Adults bear horns that point backwards and are flat and wrinkled (2). Males’ horns grow to about 30 cm in length, while females’ horns are slightly smaller at about 25 cm (in length) (5). Juveniles are brown in colour with a woolly coat which is lost as they mature (2).

Anoa Des Plaines.
Anoa De Ilanura.
Tail length: 40 cm (2)
Head/body length: 180 cm (2)
Male height: 27-37 cm (2)
Female height: 18-26 cm (2)

Lowland anoa biology

This small water buffalo is herbivorous and feeds on aquatic plants, ferns, grasses, saplings, fallen fruit, palm, and ginger (6). Like other water buffalo this species wallows and bathes in pools of water and mud, and drinks from salt licks, pools of mineral spring water or from sea water in order to obtain minerals (1).

Lowland anoas are usually solitary, though mother and daughter pairs are common and small groups of up to five individuals have been recorded (5). Research indicates that males are territorial as they have been observed marking trees with their horns and scratching the soil after urinating (5). Breeding occurs throughout the year and, after a gestation period of 275-315 days, females give birth to a single offspring (2) (6).


Lowland anoa range

This species is endemic to the Indonesian island of Sulawesi, where its range extends for about 5,000 km² (2).


Lowland anoa habitat

As its name suggests this species inhabits lowland forests. It also occurs in swampy areas and in the past was recorded from coastal areas (1). Lowland anoa are also found in mountainous areas at high elevations (1).


Lowland anoa status

Classified as Endangered (EN C1+2a) on the IUCN Red List 2003 (1) and listed on Appendix I of CITES (3).

IUCN Red List species status – Endangered


Lowland anoa threats

The population of this buffalo has declined significantly. The major threats are hunting and habitat loss, which is occurring in Sulawesi due to the draining of marshland, agricultural development and logging (1). Anoas are hunted for their desirable meat which is sold in local markets. In addition, the skull and the horns are made into trophies, souvenirs, and used in traditional medicine (4).

The threats of hunting and habitat loss go hand in hand, for as the forests are opened up for development, the wildlife in the forest becomes more accessible to poachers (2). The increase in the availability of weapons has also made the extent of hunting much greater (2). The lowland anoa has retreated into more remote areas of the forest due to these threats (1).


Lowland anoa conservation

Sulawesi’s forests have the highest level of mammal endemism in Asia, and there are several conservation programmes underway on the island (7). The lowland anoa is fully protected under Indonesian law, though there is concern that this is not enforced well enough, as hunting continues even inside protected reserves (1). This water buffalo does occur in several protected areas on the island but, unlike many wild cattle of Southeast Asia, this species depends mainly on undisturbed forest (1).

There are a number of lowland anoa held in captivity, though the breeding programme has been greatly hindered by confusion surrounding this species’ classification (1). At present, genetic and morphological studies are underway, which will hopefully clarify this issue and allow breeding programmes to develop (1). This species is considered endangered by the IUCN and will face extinction in the wild in the near future unless hunting is controlled and the Sulawesi forests are protected from further development (1) (4).

View information on this species at the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre.


This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact: arkive@wildscreen.org.uk


A species or taxonomic group that is only found in one particular country or geographic area.
The situation in which a species or other taxonomic group is only found in one particular country or geographic area.


  1. IUCN Redlist 2003 (January 2004) www.redlist.org
  2. Macdonald, D. (2001) The New Encyclopedia of Mammals. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
  3. CITES (January 2004) www.cites.org
  4. Ultimate Ungulate (January 2004) http://www.ultimateungulate.com/Artiodactyla/Bubalus_depressicornis.html
  5. Woodland Park Zoo, Animal Fact Sheets (January 2004) http://www.zoo.org/educate/fact_sheets/anoa/anoa.htm
  6. Animal diversity (January 2004) http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/accounts/bubalus/b._depressicornis.html
  7. World Wildlife Fund, Sulawesi Moist Forest (January 2004) http://www.panda.org/about_wwf/where_we_work/ecoregions/global200/pages/regions/region012.htm

Image credit

Male lowland anoa  
Male lowland anoa

© Rod Williams / naturepl.com

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