A herd of gaurs with calves was spotted by an infrared-triggered camera trap at one of the Kingdom’s many wildlife sanctuaries, raising hopes among local and international biodiversity conservationists that the species can be saved from extinction, according to the Ministry of Environment on July 17.
The gaur (Bos gaurus) is listed on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species as “vulnerable”.
Ministry spokesman Neth Pheaktra said the number of gaurs in the Kingdom dropped by 50 per cent from 1960-1990, before plunging a further 80 per cent in just the last 10 years.
“But although the number dropped in Cambodia proportionally to global trends, we still have gaurs in almost every wildlife sanctuary,” he said, offering a silver lining to an otherwise dispiriting situation.
The global population has dwindled since the 1950s and currently stands at 15,000-35,000, of which 6,000-21,000 are adults, Pheaktra said citing field studies by experts. The species was reportedly extirpated – made locally extinct – from Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, he added.
Today, the majority of gaurs live in Cambodia, Bhutan, China, India, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Thailand and Vietnam, he said, adding that the true population in Cambodia is unknown.
“The environment ministry will keep working side-by-side with all partners involved in the preservation and protection of Cambodia’s natural resources with the objective of safeguarding the forests and wildlife.
“The ministry calls on the public to stop eating wildlife meat due to superstitions that consuming wild game provides good health,” Pheaktra said.
According to the ministry, gaurs prefer grassy open forests and are grazers of grass and shrubs, usually searching for food in the morning and afternoon.
Gaurs have a gestation period of nine months, it said, adding that fully-grown cows weigh nearly a tonne and bulls are up to 1.5 tonnes.