Chhimi Dema

In what was a rare sighting, herders in Tegaythang in Naro gewog, located above 4,000 metres above the sea level,  sighted on October 10, a Gaur or Bos gaurus, a bovine inhabiting the country’s warmer southern foothills.

The sighting was later confirmed by officials from Thimphu divisional forest office and World Wildlife Fund (WWF) on October 18.

Chief forestry officer of Thimphu, Gyeltshen Drukpa, said that gaurs occupy the southern foothills with an elevation below 1,500 meters. “A solitary gaur reached Tegaythang, an area predominantly occupied by yaks and blue sheep above 4,000 meters.”

Tegaythang located above Bjimilangtsho has alpine vegetation at an elevation of above 4,000 metres.

Gaurs are categorised as a vulnerable species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. 

Forestry officials said that the gaur in Naro could be a stray. 

Nature Conservation Division’s chief forestry officer, Sonam Wangdi, said that if a herd of gaur were sighted, it could be attributed to the changes in the environment forcing the herd to move. 

“Since it is only one gaur, most probably, it could have followed the cattle during their migration without the notice of herders,” he said. 

He said that it would be challenging to trace which valley it could have come from.  “We’re trying.”

Dagana’s chief forestry officer, Kencho Drukpa, said that some gaurs are forced out from the herd by the dominant male and some are solitary in nature. 

He said that the gaur could have come from the Jigme Singye Wangchuck National Park in central Bhutan. “But it is still a wonder how the animal got to Naro.” 

Gaur is a strong and massively built bovine with a high convex ridge on the forehead between the horns, which protrudes in front, causing a deep hollow in the profile of the upper part of the head. There is a prominent ridge on the back and the ears are very large. Gaur stays in a herd of 30 or 40 gaurs. 

Edited by Tshering  Palden