Conservation status

A total of 22 species are listed in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. However, listed as Endangered is the linh duong (Pseudonovibos spiralis); this species' existence is questionable as it is suspected of being a hoax. The listings for this subfamily are: Critically Endangered: 2 species; Endangered: 7 species; Vulnerable: 3 species; Lower Risk: 10 species. Excluding the linh duong, 11 of the accepted 21 species, or 52%, are listed in categories of conservation concern.

Most threats to Bovinae come from human activities, including hunting and loss of habitat through the encroachment of agricultural lands and loss of forests for timber harvesting. Increased road access is linked with both the latter activities, which enables hunters to reach previously isolated populations.

Both wisent (Bison bonasus) and American bison (Bison bison) are examples of the extent to which some Bovinae have been driven to the brink of extinction at the hand of humans. Wisent were all but wiped out, leaving just a few in Poland,

American bison (Bison bison) mother and calf grazing in Waterton National Park in Canada. (Photo by Rob Hadlow. Bruce Coleman, Inc. Reproduced by permission.)

while American bison once estimated to number over 60 million at the beginning of the nineteenth century had all but been eradicated through concerted hunting efforts by the end of that century. One of the most important conservation efforts to preserve wisent has been carried out in the Bialowieza Forest in Poland, while for American bison, there have been several centers of bison conservation across the continent.

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