Before the wealth of cryptozoological discoveries in Vietnam, the most recent large animal to be discovered in Asia was the kouprey. In its day this animal, found along the Mekong River in Cambodia and Laos, generated considerable controversy.
In 1937, the director of the Paris Vincennes Zoo, Professor Achille Urbain, journeyed to North Cambodia and learned of a large wild ox, unlike the gaur and the banteng. Native people called it the kouprey. Other naturalists, however, were certain that he was wrong, and they suggested that the kouprey might be no more than a hybrid of the gaur and the banteng.
Finally, in 1961, a detailed anatomical study of the kouprey (Bos sauveli) proved it to be so different from the area’s other wild oxen that it was declared a new animal, upholding Urbain’s 1937 conclusion. Harvard mammalogist Harold J. Coolidge proposed that the kouprey be placed in a new genus, Novibos.
Southeast Asia’s wars killed off many koupreys, and some regional zoologists fear that not more than three hundred now exist in the wild. Between 1953 and 1980 koupreys were thought extinct in Thailand until a small group was rediscovered in the Dongrak mountains. A 1975 New York Zoological Society expedition failed to capture any, though members did observe a herd of fifty.
In November 1988, Hanoi University zoologist Vo Quy led a well-funded capture team to begin a captive breeding population, but specimens eluded him and his party. Koupreys remain one of Asia’s most elusive larger mammals.
The Encyclopedia of Loch Monsters,Sasquatch, Chupacabras, and Other Authentic Mysteries of Nature
Written by Loren Coleman and Jerome Clark – Copyright 1999 Loren Coleman and Jerome Clark