Context: An exercise to estimate Gaur population in Nilgiris Forest Division was conducted in February 2020 which probably is a first of its kind to be done in the region in recent times. 

Findings of exercise:

  • It revealed that more than an estimated 2,000 Indian gaurs inhabit the entire division with an average of eight individuals per square kilometre.
  •  In 2019, three people were killed and seven others injured by Indian gaur.
  • It was noticed that a majority of the gaurs seen around Kundah, Kotagiri, Coonoor and Kattabettu, where a majority of these interactions occurred, preferred to inhabit tea estates and human settlements, while the animals largely avoided forested areas. 
  • Reasons for this could be due to - 
    • the easy availability of food in and around human settlements, 
    • the lack of threat from predators, 
    • habitat loss and fragmentation  
    • the spread of invasive flora into reserve forests.
  • Moreover, many of these ‘conflict-prone’ regions are witnessing changing land-use patterns, with what were tea estates being converted into resorts and buildings. 
  • This also translates to fences becoming more prominent around these properties and severely limiting traditional pathways used by the gaur to move between habitats.
  • Gaur deaths - On an average, a total of 60 gaurs die each year in the Nilgiris Forest Division, many due to accidents related to living close to human habitations.

Indian Gaur:

  • The gaur, Bos gaurus, also called the Indian bison, is one of the largest extant bovines. 
  • It is native to South and Southeast Asia. 
  • It has been listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List since 1986. 
  • The global population has been estimated at maximum 21,000 mature individuals by 2016. 
  • It declined by more than 70% during the last three generations, and is extinct in Sri Lanka.
  • It is reckoned as the fourth largest living land animal. 
    • Tipping the scales easily at 1200 kg or more, it ranks after the elephant, rhinoceros and giraffe. 
  • As a herbivore, it prefers the safety of forests with an inclination to subsist on low rolling hills.
  • It is one of the largest species among the wild cattle, reaching a shoulder height of up to 220 cm (87 in).
  • The domesticated form of the gaur is called gayal (Bos frontalis) or mithun.
  • The Western Ghats and their outflanking hills in southern India constitute one of the most extensive extant strongholds of gaur, in particular in the Wayanad – Nagarhole – Mudumalai – Bandipur complex.

Source: first population estimation exercise,gaurs inhabit the entire division.