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.
- 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.
https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/energy-and-environment/first-estimation-exercise-of-indian-gaur-in-nilgiris-in-recent-years/article31805462.ece#:~:text=The first population estimation exercise,gaurs inhabit the entire division.