Tiger – Gaur Face-off, Bandhavgarh

Akhilvijay Singh

Akhilvijay Singh

Chosen as 'Picture of the Week'

Gaur were reintroduced to Bandhavgarh in 2011-2012 after their local extinction in the park some years ago. Since then, about 20 calves have been born and the population seems to be doing well says the photographer.

I was on a evening drive in the Magdhi zone of Bandhavgarh national park when I came across this big male tiger. He was walking along the fence that was erected to contain gaur when they were reintroduced to Bandhavgarh from Kanha. Suddenly the tiger froze. I couldn’t figure out why. He had certainly detected something,  but I couldn’t see it. After about ten minutes he walked back on the road and suddenly I saw him face to face with a radio collared gaur outside the fence. He kept walking towards the gaur, which seemed unperturbed. The tiger walked around the gaur in semicircles trying to see if he could leap on to it, and the gaur kept on snorting and shaking his head while keeping his eyes firmly on the tiger. Unfortunately, it was time for me to go out of the park and I left with a lot of mixed feelings. Next day I returned to the spot wondering what must have transpired the previous night. The last thing I wanted to see was vultures hovering over a gaur carcass. I couldn’t find the tiger but I did find the gaur happily munching away on bamboo leaves.

In 2011-12, fifty gaur were brought to Bandhavgarh from Kanha as an initiative to reverse the local extinction of the species. Twenty calves have been born since then. A few mortalities have taken place owing to predation and other natural factors, but the population is growing. Hopefully this will turn out to be a successful reintroduction.

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