Make way for Hercules – the Gaur of Central India
Central India is home to all sorts of small and big fascinating creatures. It’s easy to forget that there’s more to its wildlife than elusive big and small cats. Here dwells a bulky beast, not the colossal elephant but the largest and tallest species of wild cattle, bigger even than the Cape buffalo, Water Buffalo and Bison. Belonging to the family Bovidae and subfamily Bovinae, the Gaur (Bos gaurus) is known by different names in different Indian dialects such as Gawa in Marathi, Methun in Assamese, Gauri-gai or Gaur in Hindi. In context to Safari tourism Gaur is mistakenly called as Indian Bison which is technically incorrect.
Native to South Asia and Southeast Asia, Gaur is a large animal with a sturdy built. It has a short and deep neck, a massive head and frequently a large dewlap on the throat and chest. Both the sexes have a dorsal ridge which is comparatively well developed in males. It has dark coloured coat with white colour below the knees. This white colour goes from hoof to hock due to which the bovine is often said to be wearing ‘white stockings’. The white stockings are developed in juveniles at around three to four months of age. There is little or no seasonal difference in the colour of the coat. But the inhibitors of dry Sal Forests are less dark than the inhibitors of Teak Forests.