Bubalus quarlesi (Ouwens, 1910)
Anoa quarlesi Ouwens, 1910: 7.
“Syntypes”.— 1 immature specimen, skin, skull, sex unknown, “Nat. in Buitenzorg # 115”, bred by P.A. Ouwens, no date, ex Museum Buitenzorg 2016, ZMA 9288. 1 immature specimen, skin, skull, sex unknown, “Nat. Buitenzorg”, leg. P.A. Ouwens, no date, ex Museum Buitenzorg 2366, ZMA 9289. 1 immature specimen, skin, skull, ♀, “Nat. Buitenzorg”, leg. P.A. Ouwens # 1, no date, ex Museum Buitenzorg 2365, ZMA 9295.
Notes.— The type status of these specimens is refuted on grounds explained below. On the 5th of September 1910 in Makassar, Ouwens (1910, 1911) received a male and a female anoa from the governor of Sulawesi, Mr A.J. baron Quarles de Quarles. (Later that same year these two specimens would become the basis for Ouwens’ description of Anoa quarlesi.) He took them by boat to Java, and brought them to Buitenzorg (now: Bogor). The animals were not very shy and were led to the boat walking on a leash. At the request of the governor, they had been obtained for him by order of the district officer (Dutch: assistent resident) Mr Boer at Palopo (2°59’39’’S, 120°11’5’’E). In his turn, Mr Boer had commissioned the civil authorities of Palopo, Malili (2°38’3’’S, 121°5’48’’E) and Kolaka (3°40’54’’S, 121°25’59’’E) to try and obtain living anoa (see Ouwens, 1910, 1911). (It has not been feasible to consult relevant administrative archives of that period, which possibly contain data on the more exact provenance of the two animals.) Ouwens (1910, 1911) quoted Boer who wrote to the governor on the 20th of March 1910 that he was going to commission the mentioned authorities. Thus, the animals were obtained after the 20th of March and before the 5th of September 1920. In Makassar, Ouwens was told (his report does not say by whom) that the two animals were about 2.5 years old. This was confirmed upon his arrival with the animals in Buitenzorg following examination by the Chief Inspector of the Veterinary Service there.
Both the fact that their age was known in Sulawesi and their tame behaviour suggest that they may not have been wild any more when given to Ouwens, and had been kept in captivity for some time already. According to Burton, Hedges & Mustari (2005), sexual maturity in anoas in captivity is attained in the second to third year. Ouwens finished his second paper on anoas (1911; mostly a Dutch translation of his first) on the 5th of July 1911 and explicitly mentions that his two specimens of Anoa quarlesi were alive at that time. Their age was then about 3 years and 3 months, indicating sexual maturity. The immature ZMA “syntype” skulls (with many open sutures in all three, 1 upper molar not yet present in ZMA 9288 and 2 upper molars absent in ZMA 9295) obviously represent other specimens. They have nevertheless been quoted as (alleged) syntypes since Groves published his paper on Anoa systematics in 1969. Groves (1969), who studied them in the ZMA, had already observed that ZMA 9295 “is probably not a type”.
Unfortunately, it is not clear what “Nat. Buitenzorg” means, but it may refer to the birth of the animals in Buitenzorg. If they were born in Buitenzorg (which appears to be so for ZMA 9288, which according to the ZMA register was bred by Ouwens), it is another argument against the type status for any of these three ZMA specimens.
The three skulls formed part of a larger sending of specimens of Bubalus depressicornis (H. Smith, 1827) and Bubalus quarlesi (Ouwens, 1910) from the museum at Buitenzorg to the ZMA, but were the only ones among them donated to the Buitenzorg museum by P.A. Ouwens. (They may well be descendants of the two original animals.) This must have confused the responsible ZMA curator, the late P.J.H. van Bree. However, neither the specimens’ labels nor the ZMA register mention that these specimens are syntypes. That is only mentioned in the ZMA card index (in fact a systematically arranged copy of the register). This means that the idea that syntypes were involved rose only later on. The assistant curator at the time, L.J.K. Kleijn, who registered the specimens, does not remember whether he copied the labels from other (MZB) labels or from a document like a letter or list (L.J.K. Kleijn, in lit., 2.ii.2011).
Of the two colleagues consulted to try and locate the true type specimens, Dr A. Suyanto of the Museum Zoologicum Bogoriense (MZB) at Cibinong informed the author (in lit., 8.ii.2011) that there is no type material of this species in the MZB, and C. Smeenk of the Leiden Museum (Naturalis) wrote (on 8 February 2011) that the skin of the ♂ type specimen is preserved in that collection, registered under RMNH 10606.