Tea and Gaur

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The gaur drifts through the field with an expression of bovine content.

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Portrait of a Gaur

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Indian gaurs are the largest bovine in the world. Listed as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List, they are only surpassed in weight by rhinoceroses, hippopotami, elephants, and giraffes. Overhunting has threatened them through much of their south-east Asian range, however, notably in Vietnam and Cambodia.

In protected areas, they flourish – and can indeed coexist with humans, if not disturbed; this individual regularly fed some fifty meters from tea workers in the Western Ghats. It’s not a consistent trend, however – that same area records a death per year from gaurs not noticed in the dark by people wandering off the roadside.

Being able to observe them in their natural habitat is nevertheless a privilege – they hold a dignified air about them, a firmness in intent, and sometimes an almost-human confidence in their glinting eyes.