News Excerpt
Recently Gaur (Bos Gaurus) had been spotted in the Bihar’s Valmiki Tiger Reserve (VTR) due to increase in grassland cover.

●    The Gaur, are native to south and southeast Asia, recently they had shifted to Chitwan National Park (Nepal) a few years back due to grassland destruction in VTR.
●    The Gaur is listed as ‘vulnerable’ on the IUCN Red List and listed under Appendix-I of CITES.
●    The Indian Gaur is listed as Schedule-I species under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.

Valmiki Tiger Reserve
    Valmiki Tiger Reserve forms the eastern most limit of the Himalayan Terai forests, VTR encompasses foothill ranges of Siwaliks Himalayan and is the only tiger reserve of Bihar.
    VTR is situated in the Gangetic Plains and has a combination of bhabar and terai tracts. VTR lies in the Champaran of Bihar.
    River Gandak forms the western boundary of Valmiki wildlife sanctuary.
    Sonha, Pachnad, Harha - Masan River system originates from the Valmiki Forests and forms Gandak River.
    River Pandai flows into Bihar (India) from Nepal in the eastern end of the Sanctuary.
    All these rivers with their precursor and tributaries namely Rohua, Kotrahia, Manor, Bhapsa, Koshil, Singha, Dhonghi, Ganguli, Dohram are full of youth and verve.
    'Tharu', a scheduled tribe, is the dominant community in the landscape. Community also has cross border linkages with Nepalese Tharu.
    Another tribe Dhangarcomprises four tribes: Oraon, Munda, Lohra and Bhuiya. The 'Dhangars' were brought to this area as agriculturallaborers from the Chota Nagpur Hills. Each Dhangar tribe has its own dialect.

Gaurs in India
    Gaurs are the world’s largest and tallest wild bovines with the 85% population found in India.
    Gaur spread across a variety of habitats, including tropical forests, grasslands, etc., across the hilly ranges of the Western Ghats, the northern limit of this animal along the west coast.

•    Gaur as an ‘Indicator species’: Indicator Species is an organism whose presence, absence or abundance echoes a specific environmental condition. It indicates changes in biological conditions of a particular ecosystem. For instance- Gaur migrated due to the deterioration in VTR’s grassland & returned back when grassland resurge.
•    Grassland’s Importance: The increase in VTR’s grassland will provide a better environment for the tigers. Herbivores depend on such grassland, and on Herbivores the tigers prey on for food needs. Thus, an increase in Grassland cover would help in supporting the prey population, in turn increasing the chances of the carnivores’ survival. It will certainly add to biodiversity and Population of Gaur would definitely contribute to the regional biodiversity.

Conservation Challenges
    Poaching:The gaur is very fearless of humans that constitutes the biggest threat to it. Poachers often capitalised this human friendly nature from time to time. Gaur meat is a delicacy popular with tourists and local people.
    Climate Change: Gaurs feed on grasses in grassland topography. Unprecedented heat waves, change in rainfall pattern cause deterioration in grassland and ultimately the population of the Gaurs. For example- gaursmigrate in search of grasses.
    Habitat Loss: Grasslands are lost due to the invasion by agricultural communities. For instance- Cultivation of sugarcane and paddy in VTR is dominantly performed. It causes threat of habitat loss apart from loss due to climate change.
    Diseases: Diseases, particularly rinderpest, anthraxand foot and mouth disease, transmitted by domestic cattle, are potentially serious threats for bovine animals.

Gaurs are present in-
    Nagarhole National Park, Karnataka
    Bandipur National Park, Karnataka
    Mudumalai National Park, Tamil Nadu
    Periyar National Park, Kerala
    Kaziranga National Park, Assam
    Bhadra Wildlife Sanctuary, Karnataka
    Sathyamangalam Wildlife Sanctuary, Tamil Nadu
    Radhanagari Wildlife Sanctuary, Maharashtra
    Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary, Kerala
    Tadoba National Park, Maharashtra
    Indravati National Park, Chhattisgarh
    Kanha and Bandhavgarh National Park, Madhya Pradesh
    Konkan wildlife sanctuary
    Phansad Wildlife Sanctuary

IUCN List, NTCA, WPA 1972 Schedules,Indicator Species