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Briefs (right)

Asian Ox Feared Extinct
May Never Have Existed

By Mark Derr

In the 1930s, the kouprey trotted like a revelation out of the forests of central Indochina and into the world of modern science. Here was a large wild ox with the speed and grace of a deer and an impressive set of horns, and it had been hiding in plain view, having never been officially discovered by science.

But now, just 70 years after the first captive kouprey was sent to France from Cambodia for study, the last species of wild Asian cattle to become known scientifically may become the first to vanish in modern times — and not necessarily through extinction.

Rather, three biologists from Northwestern University and the Cambodian Forestry Administration have proposed a taxonomic demotion. In a paper published online in July by The Journal of Zoology, they say the kouprey (koh-PRAY) is probably a domestic hybrid that became feral, a zoological poseur, not a valid species.

The biologists’ proposal has met stiff opposition within the small group of scientists who study Asian wild cattle. Several say the paper misinterpreted the genetics and history of the kouprey, which may still exist in domesticated form.

Although rare, elusive and enigmatic, kouprey are recognizable: longer-legged, more graceful, faster and slightly larger than the closely related banteng, and slightly smaller than the gaur, the largest of the wild cattle.

For Some, Acceptance or
Support Is Answer

By Andrew Pollack

Ken Koroll, a 32-year-old compliance officer for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, stutters so badly that he often writes his questions to the companies he inspects rather than speaking them. But Koroll, who lives in Peoria, Ill., said he had come to terms with his inability to speak fluently.

“When I was 27 or 28, I actually stopped fighting it and started embracing it,” he said. “This is who I am and what I am, and I accept it. If anyone else can’t, that’s their problem, not mine.”

Such an attitude appears to be rare among people who stutter. Many become “covert stutterers,” avoiding jobs and social situations in which they have to talk.

Koroll’s attitude of what might be called stutterers’ lib is fostered by the National Stuttering Association, which runs support groups around the nation. The group’s three-day annual meeting, which took place in a hotel here at the end of June, attracted about 525 children and adults.

“A lot of people who stutter don’t want to be viewed as a person with a disability,” said Michael Sugarman, a social worker from Oakland who co-founded the organization in 1977.