The gaur (Bos gaurus) is the largest extant species of wild cattle in the world, as well as one of the largest land animals in the world. Resembling a water buffalo from the front and a cow from the back, guar can exceed 4,000lbs; only hippos, rhinos and elephants regularly grow heavier.
Gaur are usually 8-10 feet in length and stand about six feet tall at the shoulders. Males are larger and heavier than females and rarely weigh less than 2,200lbs, whereas females can weigh as little as 1,500lbs.
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 Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, China, Thailand, Bhutan and Nepal.
The preferred habitat for gaur is wet forests; however they can survive in more arid climates if necessary. They feed on a large variety of plant life such as grass, shrubs, trees and bamboo. Tree bark is also occasionally eaten for its mineral content. Gaur prefer to feed during the day if undisturbed. However, if a human presence is nearby the guar will likely become more nocturnal.
Gaur are not known to be particularly aggressive animals and rarely fight even amongst themselves. Fully grown adults 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 people and livestock animals.
The largest gaur may exceed 4,400lbs.
The first ever cloned animal of an endangered species was a gaur born in 2001.
“Red Bull” energy drink is based upon a Thai energy drink called “Gratin Daang” which means “red gaur”.
Natural History Notebooks