Endangered ‘demon of the forest’ born at Chester Zoo

Baby Lasola, hardly a ‘demon’ Pic: Chester Zoo

VISITORS of Chester Zoo can enjoy a ‘devilish’ new arrival, a rare lowland anoa calf.

Lasola was born to first time mum Oana after a 282 day pregnancy, and is in small company in more ways than one, she belongs to the world’s smallest species of wild cattle and there are now only an estimated 2,500 mature individuals remaining.

They live in the forests and swamps on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi but are listed as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Assistant curator of mammals at the zoo, 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.

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 will see the anoa family moved to a brand new exhibit when Islands, a brand new £30m development opens its doors to the public.

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

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