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Calf and adult female gaur, Bandipur-Mudumalai National Parks, India (Christy William)

Gaur (Bos gaurus)

Physical characteristics

The gaur is  the world’s biggest cattle species. Gaur calves are born ruddy brown, and from the age of three months begin to sport white stockings that they retain for the rest of their life. Adult male gaur have a long well developed shoulder hump which dips in the centre of the lower back . They have relatively small hooves but have great strength and agility, known to have been able to jump over a 6 feet barrier. They weigh 650–1,000kg, are normally 2.5–3.3m in length, and have a tails that 70-8100cm long.8 Adult male an female gaur can be distinguished by the shape and size of their horns. Males horns curve out and then in and are further apart from each other compared to female horns. Gaur are born with black horns that begin to turn white from the base with age. The greater the amont of white on a gaur's horns, the older the animal is. This is common to both sexes.8 Adult males are black, while sub-adult and females are dark brown. Calves till the age of three months have a ruddy brown coat.8

Life history 

  • Longevity: Maximum of 24 years in captivity, but probably closer to 20 years in the wild.8 Predation and disease are the two most common causes of mortality in all gaur populations.1
  • Sexual maturity and gestation: The gestation period is around nine months with calves born in August and September with typically only one calf born per female. Females are sexually mature at the age of two and generally have their first calf at three. A study in 1967 reported that 50% of calves died before reaching the age of one, mainly due to tiger predation.9
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