Hyderabad: Telangana’s proposed state animal, the gaur, is facing a serious threat as its numbers are dwindling. The animal is confined only to Eturunagaram, Kinne-rasani and Kawal protected areas in Telangana as habitat destruction is leading to its decreasing numbers.
A few pockets of reserve forests in Adilabad, Khammam still has some gaur population.
“In the Eastern ghats, hill tribes of Andhra Pradesh, Odisha and Chhattisgarh use gaur horns even today in their traditional festivals. It might not have been a major threat when the gaurs were plenty, but together with habitat loss, there are hardly any gaurs left in the wild,” said Hyderabad Tiger Conservation Society’s wildlife biologist Imran Siddiqui.
He added,” There could be around 80 to 100 gaurs in Kawal sanctuary and 20 more in the buffer area. Gaur is one of the best species on which the tiger preys. It lives in bamboo forests. The loss of bamboo forests due to legal harvesting for paper mills is also resulting in decreasing gaur populations.”
Forest officials too admit that the numbers are dwindling. A senior wildlife official of Telangana said, “There is no poaching for meat as such, but habitat loss is the biggest threat. Gaurs love to take shelter in cooler areas with thick green forest cover.”
The other reasons for dwindling numbers are attributed to diseases spread by domestic cattle that stray into forests for grazing. “Diseases like rinderpest and foot and mouth spread to wild gaur from domesticated cattle. Another threat is poaching, mainly for trophies by tribals like Gutti Koyas who used the horns for dancing. They wear them as headgear.”
While in Telangana the gaur is confined to Khammam, Adilabad and Karimnagar districts, in Andhra it is restricted to Godavari districts and parts of the Vizag agency in the Godavari belt.