Gaur (Bos gaurus)

Interesting :

Guar generally looks like cow. Its coat is short and shiny with black or brown in color. Its lower legs are off-white in color, which looks like wearing socks. There is a white-gray or yellow-gray remark on its forehead. Itt has high shoulder hump and horn for both male and female. Its horn is curving upward with yellow color at thr base and turning black at the tip. Beneath its skin, there are oil nods with a little bit strong smell.

Habitat :

The Gaur occurs from sea level up to at least 2,800 m asl (Wood 1937, Wharton 1968, Choudhury 2002). Despite the many reports that call it an animal of hill-country, low-lying areas seem to comprise optimal habitat (Choudhury 2002): in Conry’s (1989) study area, elevations ranged from 46 to 1,079 m asl but the three radio-tracked Gaur only used areas below 381 m. Elevations below 61 m were used most intensively and all three animals selected these low-lying areas; elevations above 61 m were selected against or used in proportion to availability (Conry 1989). Similarly, in the Tenasserim-Dawna mountains, Thailand, signs of Gaur were more abundant in the lowlands than in the hills, noting that this was the opposite of the patterns that would be predicted if hunting (itself concentrated heavily in the lowlands) was the chief determinant of population densities, although solitary animals were found mainly in the hills (Steinmetz et al. 2008). Schaller (1967) compared vegetation maps of India with the (mid-20th century) distribution of Gaur and concluded that the species was largely confined to evergreen, semi-evergreen, and moist deciduous forest but it also occurred in dry deciduous forest areas at the periphery of its range. He considered Gaur habitat to be "characterized by (1) large, relatively undisturbed forest tracts, (2) hilly terrain below an altitude of 5,000 to 6,000 ft (1,500-1,800 m asl), (3) availability of water, and (4) an abundance of forage in the form of coarse grasses (including bamboo), shrubs, and trees". However, He cautioned that the apparent preference of Gaur for hilly terrain may be partly due to the earlier conversion of most of the plains and other low lying areas to croplands and pastures. Kumar (2010) investigated factors influencing spatial distribution of Gaur abundance in Nagarahole-Bandipur reserves and observed that the Gaur abundance patterns were primarily determined by protection effectiveness, local levels of human disturbance and undulating terrain. He also observed that these ecological and anthropogenic factors induced variation in local abundance from less than 1 per km² to about 50 animals per km² (Kumar 2010). Similarly, Wharton (1968) concluded that Gaur appeared to avoid evergreen rainforest, "preferring foothill tracts of sub-humid or deciduous forest adjacent to savannah forest, glades or other open terrain affected by man and fire thus co-existing with and exploiting low human populations in hill zones with moderate to heavy rainfall". Throughout the range of Gaur, habitat destruction and human presence is usually higher in lowlands than in hills, meaning that differential human pressures may have caused the apparent preference of Gaur for hills. Gaur occurs in many forest types in Lao PDR, Viet Nam and Cambodia including truly evergreen and montane forest, but populations in closed canopy forests especially those at higher elevations might naturally be at much lower densities than those in lowland areas with a mosaic of open and closed forest types, and in closed canopy forests areas the species appears to frequent grassy openings (Duckworth et al. 1999, Greiser Johns 2000, Duckworth and Hedges 1998, Timmins and Ou 2001, R.J. Timmins pers. comm. 2008). Although no significant difference was found in overall Gaur densities in moist compared with dry deciduous forests in Nagarahole, India (Karanth and Sunquist 1992), local variation in Gaur densities ranged between less than 1 per km² to more than 45 per km² in Nagarahole and Bandipur reserves due to variation in local habitat factors conducive for Gaurs (Kumar 2010). Steinmetz et al. (in prep.) considered that Gaur herds in an expanding population were consistently concentrated in mixed deciduous forest rather than semi-evergreen forest, although the total area of study, that was safe from poaching, was only 20 km². Gaur can persist in fragmented areas with some habitat disturbance and hunting, including in landscapes dominated by plantations (such as on parts of the Valparai plateau, south India), but in Southeast Asia it has been too heavily hunted in such areas to survive in them. Gaur can better tolerate rugged terrain and denser forest than other wild and domestic cattle, provided that there are adequate water sources (Kumar 2010, Smith and Xie Yan 2008). In Thailand it uses former cultivation amid forest, and populations in such areas can recover well if not hunted (Anak Pattanavipool pers. comm. 2006, R. Steinmetz pers. comm. 2006). A study of coffee estates around Bhadra Wildlife Sanctuary, India, recorded Gaur only in those coffee areas within 1 km of the Sanctuary’s boundary (Bali et al. 2007). Gaur both grazes and browses, reportedly eating mostly young green grasses but also leaves, fruit, twigs, and bark of various woody species, as well as coarse dry grasses, and bamboo. It seems able to maintain good condition on relatively low quality feed. At least 180-190 species of plants have been recorded in the diet (Kumar 2010). More information is given about Gaur’s diet in Dunbar Brander (1923), Hubback (1937), Schaller (1967), Wharton (1968), Krishnan (1972), Khan (1973), Conry (1981), Ebil Yusof (1982), Ramachandran et al. (1986), Prayurasiddhi and Smith (1993) and Sankar et al. (2000). Captive Gaur are reported to eat about 20 kg of green fodder per day (Ramachandran et al. 1986). During the cool season (November-February) the Gaur that Schaller (1967) studied in central India ate various herbs, large quantities of the leaves and seeds of bamboo, various other grasses, and the leaves of a number of tree species; but by the beginning of the hot season (March-June) coarse dry and semi-dry grasses made up the bulk of their diet, averaging 85% by volume (range 66-100%; four rumen samples), with browse only making up about 10%. Gaur also feeds on crops including corn, cassava, and young rubber trees, sometimes causing great damage (Wharton 1968, National Research Council 1983). Schaller (1967) reported that Gaur in Kanha National Park drank at least once per day during the hot season, usually in the evening. The mean annual group size of re-introduced Gaur in Bhandhavgarh Tiger Reserve, was estimated at 7.3 ± 0.76 (SE). The overall estimated summer, monsoon and winter home ranges of gaur were 290 km², 137 km² and 155 km² (Minimum Convex Polygon) respectively. The overall individual male home ranges varied from 135 to 142 km2, and overall individual female home ranges varied from 32 to 169 km2. In summer, Gaur largely preferred grassland (P<0.0001), whereas in monsoon and winter, Gaur preferred bamboo mixed forest (P<0.0001). Gaur avoided open mixed forest (P<0.0001) and agricultural land in all three seasons. In total, Gaur fed on 68 plant species (Sankar et al 2013). Sahai (1972) stated that Gaur drink at least twice in a 24-hour period but there appears to be no fixed time for drinking. In undisturbed areas, Gaur is mainly diurnal, but in areas of high human disturbance, it is reported to become mainly nocturnal. The basic social group appears to be a female-juvenile unit with larger groups tending to be more-or-less temporary assemblages (as in the other large species of Asian Bovini). Maternal herds containing several adult cows, juveniles, and calves frequently occur but their composition is somewhat fluid, particularly during the rut; these herds can often contain several subadult and adult males. The number of bulls in a herd changes with the time of year. Mature males associate with cows primarily during the rut: during Schaller’s study in Kanha National Park 65% of herds were accompanied by a mature male during April (the peak of the rut) but during the second half of the year the proportion dropped to 31% (Schaller 1967). Neither Schaller (1967) nor Sahai (1972) found any evidence to support Powell’s (1964) statement that young bulls usually live apart from the maternal herds; nor did Schaller’s observations support Dunbar Brander’s (1923) statement that the ’master bull’ drives all other males from the herd. Males not associating with mixed herds either live in all-male groups or are solitary. The bull herds are generally unstable, although sometimes two or more animals may frequently associate. The typical herd size appears to be in the range of 5-12 animals and herds are rarely larger than 20 (Dunbar Brander 1923, Hubback 1937, Hislop 1961a, Schaller 1967, Prater 1971, Sahai 1972, Pal and Guin 1986). Large groups of 20, 40, or even 100 animals are probably temporary aggregations of smaller groups (Pal and Guin 1986). The majority of the 125-150 Gaur studied by Schaller (1967) in Kanha National Park (India) ranged over an area of at least 78 km²; and the herds he studied travelled on average 2-3 miles (3.2-4.8 km) a day, although on occasion the distance could be much less. In West Malaysia Gaur home ranges have been estimated to be: approximately 13 km² (the Kuala Tahan herd in Taman Negara National Park) (Weigum 1972); and 29.9 km² for a yearling male, 52.1 km² for a yearling female, and 137.3 km² for an adult male in Pahang (Conry 1989). The large differences between the two studies probably reflect the different methods employed by the two workers (see Conry 1989: 60). Home ranges that can be as large as 137 km² hinder the setting aside of conservation areas for Gaur, particularly as Gaur often occurs in those areas where the pressures for economic development are highest. In central India, most Gaur mate in December and January, and calves are born in August and September according to Dunbar Brander (1923); Stebbing (1911) and Sanderson (1912) generally agreed with Dunbar Brander but noted that calves may also be born in April, May, and June. In Kanha National Park (central India) Schaller (1967) recorded rutting bulls from December to June, with an apparent peak of sexual behaviour in March and April; however, the occurrence of a few new-born animals throughout the year indicated that some mating must occur in every month. In southern India the majority of matings reportedly take place between November and March (Morris 1937). In Cambodia the majority of Gaur births occur in December and January (Wharton 1957). In Myanmar, calves are born throughout the year (Evans 1912, Peacock 1933); and in West Malaysia young Gaur are seen in all months except October to December (Hubback 1937). The gestation period of Gaur is reported to be nine months by Hubback (1937) and Crandall (1964) and 270 days, ‘a little shorter than for Banteng or domestic cattle and longer than for yak and Kouprey’, by National Research Council (1983: 49). Only one calf is born to a cow per pregnancy; there are no records of twins (Hubback 1937, Schaller 1967). Females probably first mate when about two years old and thus have their first calf at three years old (Schaller 1967). If the food supply is favourable, most adult females probably calve every year. In Kanha National Park, approximately 90% of adult cows bore young during a year but calf mortality was high, with about 50% of the calves dying before reaching one year old; the main cause of death was predation by Tigers (Panthera tigris) (Schaller 1967). Rarely, bulls kill each other when fighting, and occasionally they are severely injured while fighting. Predation is by far the major cause of Gaur mortality, perhaps followed by disease (N.S. Kumar pers. comm. 2008). For example in Bandipur, Gaur is the most important prey in terms of the biomass taken by Tiger (42%) and Leopard Panthera pardus (15%) (Andheria et al. 2007). In Bandipur, Gaur remains were found in about 24% of Tiger faeces and 9% of Leopard faeces (Andheria et al. 2007). In adjoining Nagarahole, the proportion of Gaur in Tiger’s diet was about 45% in kills, 17% in scats (Karanth and Sunquist 1995). In Tadoba-Andhari, Gaur together with Sambar contributed to nearly 70% of the prey biomass consumed by Tiger, whereas in Pench-Maharashtra it was 80% (Karanth and Kumar 2005). In well protected forest reserves where different body-sized ungulates are abundantly available, Gaur is selectively predated by Tiger (Karanth and Sunquist 1995).

Food :

It likes eating salt licks, grasses, bamboo shoot, young leafs, and some types of wild fruits.

Behavior :

It stays in far tropical rain forest both Savannah and highland forest. It is normally not fierce except it is hurt or it is breeding season. It normally lives in herd and does not like to stay in muddy places unlike cow.

Current Status :

Gaur is listed in CITES Appendix I, and is legally protected in all range states. It occurs in many protected areas, although in north-east India, Myanmar, China, Lao PDR, Viet Nam and Malaysia many such areas retain only tiny populations or have already lost the species. South and central India have a well established network of wildlife refuges and protection activities, to a large extent, are effective in many of them (F. Ahrestani pers. comm. 2008) and Gaur population in Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve in South India is perhaps the most secure one (Ahrestani and Karanth 2014) with about 5000 individuals (also the largest population of Gaurs in the world). However, conservation-oriented research and interventions on Gaur are limited and seem unlikely to expand much in the short-term, meaning that the species benefits largely through general protection activities (particularly those focused around Tiger and Asian Elephant), while species-specific negative factors or worrying long-term trends are likely to go unmanaged and even unnoticed (F. Ahrestani pers. comm. 2008). The chief of these seems to be competitive interaction with grazing stock: Gaur densities were the most depressed of all ungulates surveyed by Madhusudan (2004), perhaps reflecting higher niche overlap with domestic cattle than shown by the others (chiefly deer). There is long-term monitoring of some Gaur populations, for instance Mudumalai, Bandipur, Bhadra and Nagarahole (F. Ahrestani pers. comm. 2008, Karanth and Kumar unpub. data). Rinderpest has reportedly been eradicated from India (Choudhury 2002). Choudhury (2002) listed proposed aspects of protected area expansion and consolidation to slow further fragmentation of Gaur populations in southern and central India. In some protected areas (recent examples being Bhadra and Kudremukh in Karnataka), formerly forest-dwelling human communities have resettled closer to markets, clinics, school and other services (Karanth and Karanth 2007). This expands habitat available to Gaur (that which was formerly fields and houses) but more significant is the removal of a source of hunters and the cessation of grazing competition with domestic stock (see Karanth et al. 2006). Such conservation interventions have helped recovery of Gaur populations in this region. Increasing development aspirations mean that out migration is likely from further areas, e.g. Mudumalai (F. Ahrestani pers. comm. 2008). In contrast in Southeast Asia economic development and political stability in tandem with increased globalisation has resulted in accelerated loss and fragmentation of Gaur habitat, greater wildlife trade demand and a more insidious trade network (R. J. Timmins pers. comm. 2013). As the majority of the Gaur population is in South Asia, conservation activities are important there. It is also important that populations are maintained at least in several areas in Southeast Asia, to maintain Gaur presence through its historical range, to preserve Gaur genetic diversity and through its importance to the ecosystems within which it lives. Given the regional pattern of threats and current successes to date, implementing effective conservation interventions is considerably more challenging, and therefore a higher priority in the Southeast Asian region. Gaur occurs mainly in protected areas in Southeast Asia, although Cambodia and Myanmar may both have large populations outside them and some may persist is such areas in Lao PDR (Duckworth 1996, Hansel 2004, SUFORD 2010). In most protected areas of Lao PDR, Viet Nam and Cambodia which still retain Gaur, protected status offers little, if any, real protection to the species, exceptions being Cat Tien National Park in Viet Nam, the Srepok Wilderness Area and the Siema Biodiversity Conservation Area in Cambodia; in the latter two Cambodian areas, there are now even signs of population recovery (R.J. Timmins pers. comm. 2008), as there are at Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary and Thung Yai Naresuan Wildlife Sanctuary, Thailand, with effective tackling of poaching (R. Steinmetz pers. comm. 2008). Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary and Thung Yai Naresuan Wildlife Sanctuary form part of Thailand's 'Western Forest Complex' which if these recent gains are consolidated will, in the long term, hold the largest functional Gaur population in Thailand and perhaps South-east Asia. The most important conservation measure for the species in Cambodia is the continued strengthening and support of conservation efforts in Siema Biodiversity Conservation Area and the Srepok Wilderness Area, and to a lesser extent support of protected area conservation management in the northern plains and central Cardamoms. Likewise in Viet Nam, the most important conservation measure is the continued support of protection efforts within Cat Tien National Park, in Thailand it is to continue the consolidation of the 'Western Forest Complex' and to continue the high-intensity protection of the rebuilt herd in Khao Paeng Ma reforestation site, adjacent to Khao Yai National Park. In Myanmar the Hukaung Valley is an exceptional area of lowland plains forest, grassland, and wetlands. Part lies within the Wildlife Sanctuary and some of the rest of the outstanding plains habitat is within an enormous proposed extension. Through its size and mostly little-encroached condition, this is the most outstanding remaining landscape-level floodplains habitat for very large mammals remaining in tropical Asia, and although wildlife populations are highly depleted, warrants the strongest effort to conserve it. It faces a number of daunting challenges (J.W. Duckworth pers. comm. 2008). In Lao PDR, any of a large number of areas could become key Gaur conservation sites, but there is as yet no precedent in the country for effective conservation of high-trade-value large mammals. Xe Pian, Xe Sap, Nam Et-Phou Louey, and Nakai-Nam Theun NPAs could all be highly significant areas for the species (Duckworth and Hedges 1998, Steinmetz 2004, Johnson et al. 2006, Timmins 2012) but so could almost any other NPA; the reality is that the most success with Gaur conservation is likely to come through identifying areas with positive underlying situations to achieve conservation, rather than identifying the area with the most intrinsic importance for Gaur as the focus for efforts. Choudhury (2002) listed aspects of protected area expansion and consolidation to slow further fragmentation of Gaur populations in north-east India, Nepal, and Bhutan, and perhaps allow repopulation of Bangladesh. The most important actions in Malaysia are to determine if any viable population remains in the country and, if so, to implement effective anti-poaching measures and to work at the policy level to allow effective control of large mammal hunting and trading. Under the current circumstances, any site-based activities are likely to require the sort of 24-hour security employed at the reforestation site adjacent to Khao Yai National Park, Thailand, which has allowed a rapid population growth of Gaur. It may also require reintroduction. The Department of Wildlife and National Parks have a breeding population of captive Gaur in enclosures in the Jenderak ranger station (within Krau Wildlife Reserve), for captive release. A large captive population exists of wild-type Gaur (as well as of Mythun); given the complexity of field conservation of large ungulates, particularly in South-east Asia, it is clearly in resolving issues of hunting, trade, and protected area effectiveness that conservation interventions must focus.


CLASS : Mammalia

ORDER : Cetartiodactyla

FAMILY : Bovidae


SPECIES : Gaur (Bos gaurus)

Conservation status : Vulnerable

Age :

It can live up to 25-30 years.

Reproductive :

Its breeding takes place through out the year but breeding season is peak during November - December.

Reference :

For more information

Point of view :

Update : 06 April 2017