19 Nov 2014
Devilish new arrival: A rare anoa calf explores its enclosure. Anoa, the world’s smallest species of wild cattle, are found only on the island of Sulawesi in Indonesia.

The rare anoa calf – the world’s smallest species of wild cattle – arrived after a 282 day pregnancy for first time mum, Oana.

Keepers have named the new female youngster, Lasola.

Anoa live in forests and swamps on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi but are listed as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), with just 2,500 mature individuals estimated to remain.

Assistant curator of mammals, Dr Nick Davis, said:

As with many Indonesian island species, the lowland anoa faces an uncertain future.

Hunting for their meat is a really serious threat to them. The taste is described as hot and fiery and men believe that eating the meat of this powerful, horned animal will give them prowess.

Hunters are even managing to breach areas of Sulawesi which were thought to give protection to the anoas.

The only way this hunting pressure can be reduced is through the establishment of better protected areas and education.

The species, which is a miniature water buffalo, is sometimes referred to as the ‘demon’ of the forest as local farmers wrongly believe them to come out of the forest at night and use their horns to puncture cattle.

Dr Davis added:

In the wild they’ve been given the unfair tag as being ‘demons’ of the forest. As a result they’re persecuted by farmers who hold them responsible for damage to their cattle.

Take one look at our new calf and it’s impossible to see how anyone could label or harm them in such a way – they’re a very shy and secretive animal.

Next spring our anoa family will move to a brand new exhibit when Islands, a new £30m development, opens.

Islands, which will recreate habitats in the Phillipines, Bali, Sulawesi, Papua, Sumba and Sumatra, is the biggest and most ambitious expansion project in UK zoo history.

Dr Davis added:

Indonesian islands are treasure trove of unique and fragile plants and animals and that’s why they’re a big focus for our conservation work.

When it opens next year we hope our new Islands zone will really put the spotlight on species such Sumatran orangutans, Sumatran tigers, Visayan warty pigs, Bali starlings and anoa and the threats they face.

Anoa facts

  • The anoa, named after the Sulawesi word for buffalo, is a wild cattle species native to forests in Indonesia. This miniature water buffalo, which barely reach a metre in height, is divided into lowland and mountain species although there is still some debate as to whether they are in fact different
  • They are the smallest species of wild cattle
  • They live in forests and swamps on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi
  • Lowland anoa, as the name suggests, can be found in low-lying regions of swampy forest
  • They are listed as an endangered species by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), meaning they face a very high risk of extinction in the wild
  • It is estimated that less than 2,500 mature individuals remain
  • Numbers have been declining throughout Sulawesi as a result of hunting for their meat and habitat loss, with forest being converted to agriculture, namely rice paddies
  • Very little is known about the ecology and life history of the anoas
  • The species is solitary, secret and silent and live alone or in pairs, rather than herds. Being able to stay silent as a solitary animal is safer in the forest than being part of a herd where disturbance is more likely and cover blown
  • They are browsers, feeding on vegetation
  • They are reported to drink seawater, which may be a source of minerals
  • Their distinctive flattened horns are a formidable weapon
  • Chester Zoo’s new female calf was born on 22/10/2014. Keepers have called her Lasola after a river in Sulawesi
  • Mum is called Oana and is three years old (born on 4/5/2011)
  • Dad is called Bubba and is 17 (born 14/12/1997)