Bos Gaurus the largest bovine on earth is seen in plenty at Periyar Tiger Reserve. So much so that sighting of these wild animals is almost a surety for everyone. Mid of this year I had the opportunity to sight these giants at very close quarters. Rains had just started off at Periyar rendering the environment a surrealistic setting. We were trekking back from our camp when the drizzle set in. We could see a herd of Gaur standing a far distance away, on a meadow. Our path would lead us into the middle of the meadow. The forest trail meandered in a few curves and then led us to the meadow. During the time taken to reach the fringes of the meadow, we were hidden from the herd’s view. We reached the meadow finally. Now the meadow lay ahead of a small curve on our trail. Using the turn as a cover, we peeked into the meadow to see the bos gaurus herd. All the individuals of the herd were there, grazing. One individual of the herd which was very close to the curve scented us. He snorted in alarm. The entire herd came to attention and were intently staring in our direction. Realizing that humans were close by, most of the herd bolted into the green cover ahead of them.
Seeing that the herd had bolted into the undercover, we continued our trek. A few metres into the meadow, we sighted a full grown female watching us intently and standing right in the middle of our path. Any forest trail is covered with shrubs, small turns, up and downs. This female was standing behind such a small turn and watching us intently all the while mulching on fodder. We were about 20-25 feet apart from each other. Guessing that this would be the best, all of us took a couple of photographs of the female. The female allowed us to take some shots of her and then sauntered off into the bushes rejoining her companions. Gaur do allow humans to approach very close at certain areas. At Periyar Tiger Reserve , especially in this part of the forest, where we were trekking, the gaur were not accustomed to humans at close quarters. It is always better to be at a safe distance from any wild animal. Give it space and allow it to be in its comfort zone. The slight rain/drizzle had increased the green ambience and the gaur female looked like a rock standing in the middle of green. With droplets of water glistening on her coat, she looked magical.
Bos Gaurus stands at about 6 feet tall. Weighs over a ton in weight. These soft natured animals are mistakenly termed as bison or Indian bison. This is not a bison and is no way related to the bison species. This is a cow and happens to be the largest cow in the world. Periyar Tiger Reserve has got a thiving, healthy population of Gaurs. Toursists can often see a large herd of gaur, numbering anywhere from 25-200 individuals on the fringes of the lake, quenching their thirst in the summer season.