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Gaurs are 8-11 feet long, not including a tail of up to 3.5 feet, stand 5-7 feet at the shoulders, and weigh 1,430-2,200 pounds; adult males are about 25% larger and heavier than females.
Both sexes have horns, which are 2-4 feet long and grow from the sides of the head, curving upwards. Yellow at the base, they gradually darken along their length until turning black at the tips. The bulging grey-tan ridge that connects the horns on the forehead is unique to this member of the cattle family.
The short hair is dark reddish brown to blackish brown in color, while the lower legs are white.
Distribution and Habitat
Gaurs are found in Nepal, India to Indochina, and the Malay Peninsula. They live in forested hills and nearby grassy clearings at elevations of up to 5,900 feet.
Hunting and habitat destruction have decimated gaur populations, and it is estimated that there are only about 1,000 individuals left in the wild.
Habits and Behaviors
Gaur herds typically contain eight to eleven individuals, but can reach 40 individuals, and usually contain one adult bull and several cows and juveniles. Other bulls may form bachelor herds, or, if advanced in age, become solitary. A hierarchy is established in all herds, with a dominant bull at the top and size determining the order thereafter. Each herd loosely maintains a home range of about 30 square miles.
Ritualized aggressive behavior is used by both sexes to maintain the dominance hierarchy. Aggressive behavior is characterized by broadside charges and movement of the head horizontally and vertically, with actual physical fighting being extremely rare.
Vocalizations include an alarm call, which consists of a high-pitched snort, and a growling "moo." Bulls also have a "herd call," which halts the herd and brings it together, and a roaring that can last for hours during mating periods. Licking is also used in communication. Females lick their calves to form stronger relationships with them. Lower-ranking individuals lick higher-ranking individuals. Also, mating pairs lick each other during breeding.
Gaurs typically feed in the morning and evening, but can become entirely nocturnal in areas greatly disturbed by humans.
When alarmed, gaurs crash into the jungle at a surprising speed.
Breeding can take place at any time throughout the year. One calf (rarely 2) is born after a gestation period of 270-280 days. Weaning occurs at 7-9 months, and sexual maturity is reached at about 1.5-2 years. The lifespan of gaurs in the wild has not been determined.
Gaurs prefer green grass, but if necessary will consume coarse, dry grasses, forbs, and leaves.
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This page was last updated on April 30, 2017.