Sunday, August 22, 2010

Wild Bovids: Indian Bison

Though not as popular as the tiger, Indian bison or gaur is an extremely majestic animal. The appearance is striking with reach of five and a half feet to six feet and a weight of 700 to 1000 kg. The species is extremely muscular and shapely with white stocking...nature's striking adornment. The protruding dorsal ridge and dewlaps are typical to males who are glistening black (violet) in color. The fawn coloured females are smaller with inward horns and less prominent dorsal ridge. The animal is an epitome of fierce strength, and looks fearful, though it is shy by nature.

Gaur belong to the ox race and the name bison is a misnomer. It is gregarious animal and as a coarse feeder, it has penchant for floral elements on hill sides. It is a hill animal, and is stressed out to descend up to the grasslands or meadows in Kanha and elsewhere in summers. The only species of Guar North of Narmada was at Bandhavgarh but disease took its toll and none survive.

The largest population of Gaur (Bos gaurus) is found in Melghat tiger reserve followed by Kanha National Park in Madhya Pradesh India. The animals live in herds of ten to forty and forage in grasslands at Kanha. Docile by nature they can ferociously defend their calves from charging tigers. Mostly silent the calls are series of gutturals and woofs.

The big cat is their only predator and hunts the young ones and often adults. But tiger predation is not to a threatening extent...diseases are. The species is susceptible to rinderpest and foot and mouth disease. An epidemic in 1976 at Kanha tiger reserve took a heavy toll of this majestic bovine. The animals are very shy and like swamp deer cannot survive along with man.

Not much is known about the species, but they are hardy animals, true to their order and survive in many National Parks of India. Their closest relative is the Banteng found in Eastern India.

The disease carriers are the live stock in the villages nearby the park. As a rule the livestock has to be inoculated against such disease. The animals in protected areas not in danger but those outside are unheard of leaving Kanha and Pench.

The herd consist of young ones and females, and is lead by an old female. The adult males take over herd during breeding and then stay separate in groups on 2 or 3 or even solitary. The animal has a crucial role in the food chain and preserving the ecosystem of dense forests.

No comments: