Published online by Cambridge University Press: 05 December 2014
The taxonomy of the anoas is uncertain and has been the cause of much debate (summarised by Burton et al. 2005), largely because of the substantial morphological and genetic variation displayed by wild and captive individuals. There is consistent agreement among authors since Groves (1969) that anoas should be regarded as members of the genus Bubalus. The subgenus Anoa has been proposed to clearly separate the anoas as distinct from other members of Bubalus, although it is not considered that there is adequate support for Anoa as a genus in its own right (Hollister 1919; Groves 1969). Currently accepted taxonomy recognises two species (Burton et al. 2005; Grubb 2005), ‘lowland’ and ‘mountain’, but past taxonomies have proposed both a single species and three or more species (e.g. Dolan 1965; Groves 1969). Recent studies have indicated that the genetic basis for the two species split is not strong, and that there may be greater support for distinct races or subspecies separated geographically (Mustari et al. 2012). It is relevant to note that the Indonesian National Action Plan for Anoas (Mustari et al. in press) was based on the identification of priority regions relating to putative genetically distinct geographically separated populations rather than known ranges of the two currently recognised species. These questions require significant further investigation in order to confirm what constitutes evolutionarily significant units for anoa, but until they are resolved there is no strong basis on which to abandon the two-species classification.