Lowland Anoa (Bubalus depressicornis) and Mountain Anoa (Bubalus quarlesi)

Other names: Dwarf Buffalo

(Note: If not otherwise stated, the information is applicable to both species of Anoa)


Conservation Status

Both species listed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List though currently there is debate over the validity of the two current taxa as recent genetic analysis has revealed that the population structure is differentiated by the different biogeographic regions of Sulawesi and Buton and that there are in fact 4 subpopulations so the taxonomic status of these species is likely to change in the near future.


Anoa are one of the smallest of all wild cattle species, they have thick necks, plump bodies and short legs. Both species are brown to black in colouration with the lowland anoa having a pale throat bib and facial and leg patches whilst the mountain anoa have generally fewer white markings and a woollier coat. Both species weigh around 150-300kg with the lowland anoa being slightly larger; up to 1.7m long whilst mountain anoa grow up to 1.5m long. Their horns move backwards diagonally which is an adaptation to being able to move through thick vegetation more easily, in lowland anoa these are 18-38cm long whilst the horns of mountain anoa have a smooth surface and are shorter, growing 15-20cm long1.

Ecology and Behaviour

The ecology and life history of anoas is still poorly known, however both species are solitary, only forming pairs when breeding or of mother and offspring. The lowland anoa is a browser; feeding on leaves, fruits, ferns, saplings, twigs, mosses and a few grasses1,3,11,13. Like other wild buffalo and cattle species anoas wallow and bathe in pools of water and mud. Mineral springs or licks are also thought to be used and needed by anoa, in some areas it’s been reported that they drink seawater which might fulfil their need for minerals in areas without springs or licks8.

Distribution and Habitat Preference

Both species of anoa are endemic to Indonesia and are only found on Sulawesi and the smaller island of Buton off of Sulawesi’s southeast coast2. Currently it is unknown whether the two species are sympatric (occurring in the same geographical area) or if they are parapatric (occur in close areas but do not actually overlap), and as yet the local distributions on both anoa species remains unclear2.


Lowland anoa distribution map

Lowland Anoa

Lowland anoa are generally found in both primary and secondary forest as well as swamp and mangrove forest regions and have been previously reported inhabiting coastal areas as well as high mountainous areas. Typically though they are found in elevations below 1000m6,8,9. It is thought from reports, skull records and morphological that lowland anoas are present in the northern peninsula as far east as the Bogani Nani Wartabone National Park, across the central region and down to the tip of the eastern and south eastern peninsulas as well as north and central Buton2. There is evidence of lowland anoa moving into more mountainous area in an effort to avoid human activity as more people encroach upon their habitat and anoa move to less disturbed areas12.


Mountain anoa distribution map

Mountain Anoa

Moutnain anoa unlike the lowland anoa are generally recorded from elevations of 1000-2300m, as well as near sea level7,10. It is usually found in dense forest and habitats with dense understory vegetationand in areas with plentiful water sources and little human activity3,10. Once again, using skull records and morphological descriptions, it was found that mountain anoas were present across most of the Central region of Sulawesi and north of Buton2. However, though they cannot be

confirmed, there are reports of this species in the north peninsula and in some parts of the southeast peninsula4. Determining mountain anoa populations can be challenging due to the difficulty in differentiating the two species, in particular mountain anoa from young lowland anoa8.


Hunting for food and habitat loss due to conversion for agriculture are considered principal threats with gold mining and other activites such as the extraction of timber, and hunting for the trade in live animals and body parts for traditional medicines playing parts as well.

Population Estimates

The population is thought to number less than 2500 mature individuals and no single population is thought to have more than 250 mature individuals which with increasing habitat fragmentation can only decline and the forecast rate of population decline is a reduction of 20% across two generations2.


20-30 years in captivity 5 and this is likely to be less in the wild 8.

Sexual maturity and gestation In captivity sexual maturity occurs between the ages of 2–3 years5. The gestation period is approximately 9–10 months1 with typically just 1 offspring being born5.


1. Burnie, D., (ed) 2004. Animal: the definitive visual guide. p246. London: Dorling Kindersley.

2. Burton, J. A., Hedges, S., Mustari, A. H., 2005. The taxonomic status, distribution and conservation needs of the Lowland anoa Bubalus depressicornis and mountain anoa B. quarlesi. Mammal Review 35(1): 25–50.

3. Foead, N., 1992. Studi Habitat dan Pakan Anoa Gunung [Bubalus (Anoa) quarlesi, Ouwen] Di Taman Nasional Lore Lindu, Sulawesi Tengah. Fakultas Kehutanan, Universitas Gadjah Mada.

4. Groves, C. P., 1969. Systematics of the anoa (Mammalia, Bovidae). Beaufortia 17: 1–12.

5. Jahja, M. M., 1987. The possibility of breeding anoa in captivity: an alternative for conservation of the species. Biotrop Special Publication 30: 101–108.

6. Mustari, A. H., 2003. Ecology and conservation of lowland anoa Bubalus depressicornis in Sulawesi, Indonesia. University of New England.

7. National Research Council., 1983. Little-Known Asian Animals with a Promising Economic Future. National Academy Press, Washington DC, USA.

8. Burton, J., Wheeler, P. & Mustari, A. 2016. Bubalus depressicornis. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T3126A46364222. http://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-2.RLTS.T3126A46364222.en. Downloaded on 22 November 2017

9. Burton, J., Wheeler, P. & Mustari, A. 2016. Bubalus quarlesi. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T3128A46364433. http://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-2.RLTS.T3128A46364433.en. Downloaded on 22 November 2017.

10. Sugiharta, A., 1994. Abundance and habitat characterization of mountain anoas in Besoa, Lore Lindu National Park, Indonesia. M.Sc. Thesis. New Mexico State University, New Mexico, USA.

11. Whitten, A. J., Mustafa, M., Henderson, G. S., 1987. The Ecology of Sulawesi. Gadjah Mada University Press, Yogyakarta, Indonesia.

12. Okarda, Beni., 2010. Potential Habitat and Spatial Distribution of Anoa (Bubalus spp.) in Lore Lindu National Park, MSc Thesis, Institut Pertanian Bogor, Bogor, Indonesia, accessible at: http://repository.ipb.ac.id/handle/123456789/40936

13. Pujaningsih, R.I., et al. 2014. Diet composition of anoa (Buballus sp.) studied using direct observation and dung analysis method in their habitat. Journal of the Indonesian Torpical Animal Agriculture, Vol.34 (3), pp.223-228