2007 Schools Wikipedia Selection. Related subjects: Mammals

A bull Gaur at Bandipur National Park, South India
A bull Gaur at Bandipur National Park, South India
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Artiodactyla
Family: Bovidae
Genus: Bos
Species: B. gaurus
Binomial name
Bos gaurus
H. Smith, 1827

The 'Gaur' (pronounced "GOWr")-( Malayalam kattupothu; Bos gaurus, previously Bibos gauris) is a large, dark-coated ox of the hilly areas of South Asia and Southeast Asia, which may be found wild or domesticated. The species is found primarily in India. It is also called the seladang or Indian bison, which is technically incorrect. The gaur has been recognized by wild life experts as the largest of all wild cattles, bigger even than Asian wild Water Buffalo and American Bison. A typical black bull gaur averages 1 ton in weight.


  • Bos gaurus laosiensis (Myanmar to China)
  • Bos gaurus gaurus (India, Nepal) also called "Indian bison"
  • Bos gaurus readei
  • Bos gaurus hubbacki (Thailand, Malaysia)
  • Bos gaurus frontalis, domestic gaur, probably a gaur-cattle hybrid breed

The wild group and the domesticated group are sometimes considered separate species, with the wild gaur called Bibos gauris or Bos gaurus, and the domesticated gayal or mithun (mithan) called Bos frontalis Lambert, 1804.

When wild Bos gaurus and the domestic Bos frontalis are considered to belong to the same species the older name Bos frontalis is used, according to the rules of the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature (ICZN). However, in 2003, the ICZN "conserved the usage of 17 specific names based on wild species, which are pre-dated by or contemporary with those based on domestic forms", confirming Bos gaurus for the Gaur.

Previously thought to be closer to bison, genetic analysis has found that they are closer to cattle with which they can produce fertile hybrids. They are thought to be most closely related to banteng and said to produce fertile hybrids.

General characteristics

Gaur are said to look like the front of a water buffalo with the back of a domestic cow. They are the largest and most powerful of all wild cattles. Males have a highly muscular body, with a distinctive dorsal ridge and a large dewlap, forming a very powerful appearance. Females are substantially smaller, and their dorsal ridge and dewlaps are less developed.

  • Body Length: 250-330 cm / 8.3-11 ft.
  • Shoulder Height: 170-220 cm / 5.6-7.2 ft. On average, males stand about 1.8 - 1.9 m at the shoulder, females 10 - 13 cm less.
  • Tail Length: 70-100 cm / 28-40 in.
  • Weight: Males often 1000 - 1500 kg / 2200 - 3300 lb, females 700 - 1000 kg / 1540 - 2200 lb.

Gaurs are huge animals. They are as heavy as African black rhinos and are the only wild bovids to exceed a shoulder height of 2.1 m (7 feet). Size varies by region. In India, the largest breed of gaur is found in the southern forests, while those in the north are smaller.

The dark brown coat is short and dense, while the lower legs are white to tan in colour. There is a dewlap under the chin which extends between the front legs. There is a shoulder hump, especially pronounced in adult males. The horns are found in both sexes, and grow from the sides of the head, curving upwards. Yellow at the base and turning black at the tips, they grow to a length of 80 cm / 32 inches. A bulging grey-tan ridge connects the horns on the forehead.

Ontogeny and reproduction

  • Gestation period: 275 days.
  • Young per birth: 1, rarely 2
  • Weaning: 7-12 months.
  • Sexual maturity: In the 2nd and 3rd year.
  • Life span: About 30 years.
  • Breeding takes place throughout the year, though there is a peak between December and June.

Ecology and behaviour

In the wild, gaurs live in small herds of up to 40 individuals and graze on grasses, shoots and fruits. They fall prey only to tigers. Tigers are one of the only predators, other than humans, who can kill a full grown adult.

Where gaurs have not been disturbed, they are basically diurnal, being most active in the morning and late afternoon and resting during the hottest time of the day. But where populations have been molested by human populations, gaurs have become largely nocturnal, rarely seen in the open after 8:00 in the morning. During the dry season, herds congregate and remain in small areas, dispersing into the hills with the arrival of the monsoon. While gaurs depend on water for drinking, they do not seem to bathe or wallow.

A family group consists of small mixed herds of 2-40 individuals. Gaur herds are led by a single adult male. Adult males may be solitary. During the peak of the breeding season, unattached males wander widely in search of receptive females. No serious fighting between males has been recorded, with size being the major factor in determining dominance. Males make a mating call of clear, resonant tones which may carry for more than 1.6 kilometers. Gaurs have also been known to make a whistling snort as an alarm call, and a low, cow-like moo.

The average population density is about 0.6 animals per square kilometer, with herds having home ranges of around 80 square kilometers.

The gaur belongs to the wild oxen family, which includes wild water buffaloes. Unlike its aggressive cousin, the gaur is very timid and shy, and often shuns humans and others. When alarmed, gaurs crash into the jungle at a surprising speed. But a gaur does not bluff when it charges. When wounded or angry, because of their huge size and power gaurs become quite dangerous and yield to nothing. Even a tiger would avoid taking on such an animal. A fight has been reported between a male Indian rhino and a bull gaur, reflecting the strength and courage of the gaur.


Tropical Asian woodlands in the following countries: Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, India, Laos, Malaysia (Peninsular Malaysia), Myanmar, Nepal, Thailand, Viet Nam (IUCN, 2002).


At 7:30 PM on Monday, 8 January 2001, the first successful birth of a cloned animal that is a member of an endangered species occurred, a gaur named Noah. He was carried and brought successfully by a surrogate mother from another, more common, species, in this case a domestic cow named Bessie. The biotechnology company Advanced Cell Technology was the first to succeed. While healthy at birth, Noah died within 48 hours of a common dysentery likely unrelated to cloning.

Retrieved from ""