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The endangered Indian Gaur

The Indian Gaur is also known as Indian bison. Being a South-East Asian genus, it is seen in India more than in any other Asian countries. Now with their status declared threatened, Indian Gaurs are protected in some of the wild life sanctuaries of Kerala.

The Indian Gaur belongs to the Bovidae family of Artiodactyla order with the scientific name Bos Gaurus or previously Bibos Gauris. The domesticated form of Indian Gaurs is known as ‘Mithun’ or ‘gayal’ and is considered as a different species with the scientific name Bos Frontalis.

Though known as ‘Kattupothu’ in Malayalam language (which means wild buffalo), the Indian Gaur is a kind of cattle. It is the largest of all wild cattle. With its huge head, deep massive body, sturdy stockinged limbs, the gaur is an embodiment of vigor and strength.

An adult Gaur weighs between 425 kilograms to 900 kilograms and has a height between 2.1 to 3.4 meters. It has a length varying between 2 to 2.5 meters with an average tail length of 60 to 80 centimetres.

They live in hilly forest areas. The Indian Gaur is herbivorous in nature and feeds on grass and leaves. It has an average lifespan of 30 years.

Gaurs live in herds. A group of Indian Gaurs is headed by an elderly female. Adult males are found as solitary in nature. They make noises such as whistling which reflects alarm and the usual cow-like moo. Adults are jet black in color, young ones brownish.

Due to human encroachment into its habitat, hunting by humans and infectious diseases the number of Indian Gaurs is decreasing. In Kerala they are protected in some of the forests and Wildlife sanctuaries including Parambikulam in Palakkad, Aralam in Kannur, Neyyar in Thiruvananthapuram, Chinnar and Periyar National Parks in Idukki district.