DESCRIPTION: Also called a seladang or Indian Buffalo5, the gaur is one of the largest bovids4. They can be as tall as 210cm (6½ feet) at the shoulder and weigh 600-1,000 kg. Their curved horns can be up to 110 cm (3½ feet) long and are black tipped2. The gaur has also been domesticated in India and Burma4. The domestic animal is called the Gayal, Mythan or Mythun and is smaller than its wild counterpart4.
HABITAT: There are three sub-species found in Southern Asia; in Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, Southern China, India, Lao PDR, Peninsular Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Thailand and Vietnam4. They are found in forested hills and grassy clearings2.
FEEDING: In some areas it is diurnal, feeding in the morning and late afternoon2. In others it is mainly nocturnal, due to human interference2,3. They are believed to be both grazers and browsers, preferring green grass when available2,3. At least 180-190 plant species have been recorded in their diet 3.
BREEDING: Gaur live in groups of between 2 – 40, but more usually 8 – 11, with normally only one mature bull per group2. Some males live alone or in bachelor groups1. Females are pregnant for around 9 months and a single calf is born1, which is nursed for 7 - 9 months2. Due to their formidable size and power, gaur have few natural enemies. Saltwater crocodiles, leopards and dhole packs occasionally attack unguarded calves or unhealthy animals, but only the tiger has been reported to kill a full-grown adult.
CONSERVATION: The guar is classed as ‘Vulnerable’ by the IUCN3 and the populations in some areas have dropped by over 70% in just three generations3. Hunting is a major problem in India and Myanmar and habitat loss is effecting populations throughout their range3. Sadly the illegal trade in their horns and internal organs is increasing, even though they are protected throughout their range and are also listed on Appendix I of CITES3.
1 Macdonald (Ed), Encyclopaedia of Mammals, Oxford University Press (2001)
2 Nowak, R. Walker’s Mammals of the World. John Hopkins University Press (1991)
3 IUCN REDLIST www.iucnredlist.org.uk
4 WAZA, VIRTUAL ZOO www.waza.org
5 ANIMAL, Dorling Kindersley Publishing, 2001
6 Ultimate Ungulate. www.ultimateungulate.com/artiodactyla