The gaur, Bos gaurus, the largest of the wild cattle, lives in India and south-east Asia. Its populations are dispersed and separated from each other due to the fragmentation of their territory. It has already disappeared from Sri Lanka and only survives thanks to reserves that have been set up.
Mammalia, Cetartiodactyla, Bovidae
2 m at the shoulder; 1 tonne at the most
9 months, one baby
forested hills, grassland prairies
mostly grasses, leaves, branches
India, south-east Asia
Way of life
The gaur tends to live in forested and hilly areas, resting during the hottest hours of the day. Unsettled by human activity (such as hunting and deforestation) in some regions, it has become nocturnal, becoming active upon moonrise.
Gaurs live in groups of around ten individuals, but sometimes up to forty, made up of females a single mature male. Young males form groups of singles. As they get older, they tend to become more solitary.
During breeding, males call the females with a deep moo, which can be heard 1.6 km away. Births usually take place in the warmest months. Newborns weigh 20 kg and are weaned at around 9 months.
In the event of danger, it makes a long whistling sound.
Seen as a “size” trophy for hunters, it lives in a habitat that is shrinking day by day and its range has decreased by 80% in the space of a century. Populations are declining dramatically: around 20,000 wild gaurs remain, scattered and isolated from each other in very limited areas. In India, 90% of gaurs live in reserves.
The gaur is the largest of the wild cattle. In fact, it is so imposing that its predators are few and far between. While panthers, crocodiles and dholes can attack young gaurs, only the tiger dares to challenge the adults, although it doesn't always win!
Although males can weigh up to a tonne, females never exceed 800 kg. Both sexes have large yellow horns with black tips. Under its neck there are folds of skin, called dewlaps, and an imposing muscular hump extends from its shoulders to halfway along its back.
At the Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle, gaurs are the subject of research and conservation projects. The Ménagerie, the zoo of the Jardin des Plantes in Paris, one of the Museum’s three animal parks, manages the European breeding programme for gaurs in captivity.