Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Gigantic Gaur

Though not as large as some domesticated cattle, gaur are the largest wild cattle on earth. In fact, the only land animals that regularly grow heavier than gaur are elephants, rhinos and hippos. The largest male gaur can be ten feet long, stand over six feet tall at the shoulders and weigh well over 4,000lbs!
Gaur are mostly dark brown in color with older bulls appearing nearly black. Males can be identified by the large dorsal ridge on their backs which can extend several inches higher than the rump. Both sexes feature horns that can be over two feet long connected on the head by a grey ridge of fur.

Once common throughout most of southern Asia, gaur populations have seriously declined and fragmented over the last fifty years. Overhunting, poaching and destruction of habitat are the main causes of this, leading to these animals currently being classified as vulnerable and nearly endangered. Their current ranges included portions of India, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, China, Thailand, Bhutan and Nepal.

Gaur are not known to be particularly aggressive animals and rarely fight even amongst themselves. Fully grown males are far too large for any natural predator except for tigers, and have even been known to kill tigers in self defense. However, herds near human populations can be short tempered towards both humans and livestock animals.

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