Guardian Nature School Team Contact Blog Project Noah Facebook Project Noah Twitter

A worldwide community photographing and learning about wildlife

Join Project Noah!
nature school apple icon

Project Noah Nature School visit nature school


Bos frontalis gaurus


The gaur is a strong and massively built species with a high convex ridge on the forehead between the horns, which bends forward, causing a deep hollow in the profile of the upper part of the head. There is a prominent ridge on the back. The ears are very large; the tail only just reaches the hocks, and in old bulls the hair becomes very thin on the back. In colour, the adult male gaur is dark brown, approaching black in very old individuals; the upper part of the head, from above the eyes to the nape of the neck, is, however, ashy grey, or occasionally dirty white; the muzzle is pale coloured, and the lower part of the legs are pure white or tan. The cows and young bulls are paler, and in some instances have a rufous tinge, which is most marked in groups inhabiting dry and open districts. The tail is shorter than in the typical oxen, reaching only to the hocks. They have a distinct ridge running from the shoulders to the middle of the back; the shoulders may be as much as 12 cm (4.7 in) higher than the rump. This ridge is caused by the great length of the spinous processes of the vertebrae of the fore-part of the trunk as compared with those of the loins. The hair is short, fine and glossy, and the hooves are narrow and pointed. The gaur has a head-and-body length of 250 to 330 cm (8 ft 2 in to 10 ft 10 in) with a 70 to 105 cm (28 to 41 in) long tail, and is 165 to 220 cm (5 ft 5 in to 7 ft 3 in) high at the shoulder. The average weight of adult gaur is 650 to 1,000 kg (1,430 to 2,200 lb), with an occasional large bull weighing up to 1,500 kg (3,300 lb).[5] Males are about one-fourth larger and heavier than females. In general measurements are derived from gaurs surveyed in India and China. The Seladang, or Malayasian subspecies, may average larger but no scientifically published measurements are known. Gaur do not have a distinct dewlap on the throat and chest. Both sexes carry horns, which grow from the sides of the head, curving upwards. Between the horns is a high convex ridge on the forehead. At their bases they present an elliptical cross-section, a characteristic that is more strongly marked in bulls than in cows. The horns are decidedly flattened at the base and regularly curved throughout their length, and are bent inward and slightly backward at their tips. The colour of the horns is some shade of pale green or yellow throughout the greater part of their length, but the tips are black. The horns, of medium size by large bovid standards, grow to a length of 60 to 115 cm (24 to 45 in). The cow is considerably lighter in make and in colour than the bull. The horns are more slender and upright, with more inward curvature, and the frontal ridge is scarcely perceptible. In young animals the horns are smooth and polished. In old bulls they are rugged and dented at the base. Gaur are among the largest living land animals. Only elephants, rhinos, the hippopotamus (Hippopotamus amphibius) and the giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis) consistently grow heavier. Two species that naturally co-exist with the gaur are heavier: the Asian elephant (Elephas maximus) and Indian rhinoceros (Rhinoceros unicornis). By most standards of measurements, gaur is the largest wild bovid alive today. However, the shorter-legged, bulkier Wild water buffalo (Bubalus arnee) is similar in average body mass, if not maximum weight.


Gaur historically occurred throughout mainland South and Southeast Asia, including Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, China, Thailand, Peninsular Malaysia, Myanmar, India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, and Nepal. Today, the species is seriously fragmented within its range, and regionally extinct in Sri Lanka. Gaur are largely confined to evergreen forests or semi-evergreen and moist deciduous forests, but also occur in deciduous forest areas at the periphery of their range. Gaur habitat is characterized by large, relatively undisturbed forest tracts, hilly terrain below an altitude of 5,000 to 6,000 ft (1,500 to 1,800 m), availability of water, and an abundance of forage in the form of grasses, bamboo, shrubs, and trees. Their apparent preference for hilly terrain may be partly due to the earlier conversion of most of the plains and other low-lying areas to croplands and pastures. They occur from sea level to an altitude of at least 2,800 m (9,200 ft). Low-lying areas seem to comprise optimal habitat. In Vietnam, several areas in Đắk Lắk Province were known to contain gaur in 1997. Several herds persist in Cát Tiên National Park and in adjacent state forest enterprises. The current status of the gaur population is poorly known; they may be in serious decline. In Cambodia, gaur declined considerably in the period from the late 1960s to the early 1990s. The most substantial population of the country remained in Mondulkiri Province, where up to 1000 individuals may have survived in a forested landscape of over 15,000 km2 (5,800 sq mi). Results of camera trapping carried out in 2009 suggested a globally significant population of gaur in the Mondulkiri Protected Forest and the contiguous Phnom Prich Wildlife Sanctuary. In Laos, up to 200 individuals were estimated to inhabit protected area boundaries in the mid–1990s. They were reported discontinuously distributed in low numbers. Overhunting had reduced the population, and survivors occurred mainly in remote sites. Fewer than six National Biodiversity Conservation Areas held more than 50 individuals. Areas with populations likely to be nationally important included the Nam Theun catchment and the adjoining plateau.Subsequent surveys carried out a decade later using fairly intensive camera trapping did not record any gaur any more, indicating a massive decline of the population. In China, gaur occur in heavily fragmented populations in Yunnan and southeast Tibet. By the 1980s, they were extirpated in Lancang County, and the remaining animals were split into two populations, viz. in Xishuangbanna–Simao and Cangyuan. In the mid-1990s, a population of 600-800 individuals may have lived in Yunnan Province, with the majority occurring in Xishuangbanna National Nature Reserve. In Thailand, gaur were once found throughout the country, but less than 1,000 individuals were estimated to have remained in the 1990s. In the mostly semi-evergreen Dong Phayayen - Khao Yai Forest Complex, they were recorded at low density at the turn of the century, with an estimated total of about 150 individuals. In Bangladesh, a few gaur were thought to occur in the Chittagong Hill Tracts, Sylhet, and Mymensingh areas in the early 1980s, but none had been seen in Pablakhali Wildlife Sanctuary situated in the Hill Tracts since the early 1970s. Individuals from Mizoram and Tripura cross into Bangladesh. In Bhutan, they apparently persist all over the southern foothill zone, notably in Royal Manas National Park, Phibsoo Wildlife Sanctuary and Khaling Wildlife Sanctuary. In Nepal, the gaur population was estimated to be 250-350 in the mid-1990s, with the majority in Chitwan National Park and the adjacent Parsa Wildlife Reserve. Population trends appeared to be relatively stable. The Chitwan population has increased from 188 to 296 animals in the years 1997 to 2007; a census conducted in Parsa Wildlife Reserve confirmed the presence of 37 gaur in May 2008. In India, the population was estimated to be 12,000-22,000 in the mid-1990s. The Western Ghats and their outflanking hills in southern India constitute one of the most extensive extant strongholds of gaur, in particular in the Wayanad - Nagarhole - Mudumalai - Bandipur complex. The populations in India, Bhutan and Bangladesh are estimated to comprise 23,000-“34,000 individuals. Major populations of about 2,000 individuals have been reported in both Nagarahole and Bandipur National Parks, over 1,000 individuals in Tadoba Andhari Tiger Project, 500â€-1000 individuals in both Periyar Tiger Reserve and Silent Valley and adjoining forest complexes, and over 800 individuals in Bhadra Wildlife Sanctuary.

Species ID Suggestions

Sign in to suggest organism ID

1 Comment

Mark Ridgway
Mark Ridgway 8 years ago

Incredible animals. I haven't seen them close up yet.. just glimpses in the sholas in the Palni hills.
It's not necessary to copy the texts from other sites like Wikipedia. If you think important facts will improve your spotting just paraphrase the relevant pieces. Otherwise your reference link to the Wiki page is enough. Also the 'habitat' section is intended to contain only the immediate locale and conditions in which you found this particular specimen.. eg, 'Open sclerophyll forest near running water'

Spotted by

Spotted on Dec 13, 2015
Submitted on Dec 16, 2015

Related Spottings

Cattle Hereford Cow Vacas Cow

Nearby Spottings

Nigiri tahr Fly Lichen Hive
Noah Guardians
Noah Sponsors
join Project Noah Team

Join the Project Noah Team