Friday, 1 October 2010

The World's Biggest Cattle - my close encounter with Indian Gaur

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The Gaur is the largest species of wild cattle in the world, bigger than the African buffalo, the extinct aurochs, wild water buffalo or bison. Only Rhinos, Hippos and Elephants grown larger than these incredible animals. The males can weigh as much as 1.5 tonnes.

While traveling in South India in 2009 a farmer told us about a herd of Gaur that was casually chomping their way through a selection of farms and gardens. We watched them for over an hour as they munched and clambered through the vegetation. They were so preoccupied with feeding that they didn't seem to care who or what was nearby - and why should they. One female in particular seemed very relaxed in my presence so I was confident that I could get fairly close without alarming or spooking her. It was a real pleasure to feel the breath of this wondrous animal on my face before she finally sauntered off and disappeared into the forest.

Wild Gaur can be very dangerous animals and I wouldn't usually get this close - especially if they are with a calf or if it's breeding season, and I certainly would never attempt to get this close to one of those powerful males. By all accounts they can be quite moody!

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