Friday, May 8, 2020

Gaur - Indian Bison

Bison (Bos Gaurus) or Gaur

Well, it is not a bison, the bovine belongs to the OX race but the familiarity of this huge bovine arrives due to the misnomer. Ox is supposed to be easily trained and domesticated but this animal does not seem to follow the scientific facts. He is nowhere domesticated at least in India. The mammals are found in many Asian countries but the status is vulnerable due to poaching and human encroachment.

In Hindi, it is known as gaur a tribal inflection that literately points to gau or cow in English. Hence this animal is called gaur almost all of the country. Well at least in literature it is known as that. 

The fully grown male may weigh around one ton and during non breeding periods they stay together in small group of two or three. Both sexes have horns and the dorsal ridge is much prominent on the bulls which are also darker in coloration. The white stockings and the pale muzzle is another hallmark distinction apart from the bulk and height that among males could be six feet. In appearance they are nowhere closer to the wild water buffalo (bubalis bubalis) hence identity is not confused. The latter is found in herds in marshy grasslands in few reserves and on the verge of extinction. 

The female and young form larger herd for twenty to forty. The females may weigh up to seven hundred kilograms. They give birth to a single calf rarely two which can be seen alongside. Gestation period is of  nine months and breeding peaks during the winters although they mate all around.

The bovine is very protective of the young ones and can immediately form a protective ring whence they sense danger. There main predator is the tiger but young ones can fall prey to a leopard, crocodile, wild dog or a python. They have been known to kill big cats in an encounter but the latter is usually the winner. Sparring males can be dangerous and they have been known to man in a fit of anger.  

They are vulnerable everywhere but in recent times faring better in India due to conservation inputs. At Kanha National Park Indian bison population is over 2000 and this is remarkable recovery after the epidemic in 1976 probably a case of foot and mouth disease or rinderpest. The disease is introduced by the intruding live stock which needs to be inoculated around the reserves.       

By nature the coarse grazer is timid and shies away from humans but there have been instances of charge whence agitated. They usually graze of coarse vegetation but also found in the grasslands in the dry seasons.

Uday Freelances as Naturalist in Central India. He is an avid birder and tiger enthusiast. He blogs on tigers, wildlife and birds. He also writes on the environment and conservation.

Uday provides SEO Services and Website Contents in English. He teaches Digital Marketing in Jabalpur in Summer Holidays.

In Kanha the conservation practices have been very successful and they can now be seen in the buffer zone as well in pockets of forests that are still present. They are not seen near cultivation and probably do not enter. The habitat preference is the highlands in the reserves but descend in summers due to duress. On many occasions, I  have seen them peeling off barks as supplement during the dry season. Though they are not partial to water or marshy lands they can be seen often in summers to quench thirst in herds.  

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