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`Freak' gaur spotted in Chinnar

By P. Venugopal



The gaur spotted in Chinnar.

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM, SEPT. 10. An unusual white gaur, moving with a herd of dark-skinned gaurs, was spotted in the Chinnar wildlife sanctuary in Idukki district and photographed by the wildlife lensman, N. A. Nazeer, the other day.

According to James Zacharia, wildlife warden of Eravikulam, under whose jurisdiction Chinnar falls, a guar with such a discoloured skin is something of a freak phenomenon. Usually the gaur (Bos gaurus), the largest animal in the Kerala forests after the elephant, is either dark brown or black in colour, except for the white stockinged lower part of the limbs.

J. L. H. Williams, a British wildlife enthusiast, had reported sighting gaurs with light pink or white skin 70 years ago in the Manjampatty valley that comprises Chinnar and adjoining forest areas of Tamil Nadu.

In 1973, E. R. C. Davidar, a famous wildlife researcher, had spent several months in Chinnar trying to spot this animal and photograph it. His mission, undertaken on behalf of the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) to provide scientific evidence to the rumours floating in the air for several decades, did not find success.

His report to the BNHS was that the white gaur reported by Williams might have become extinct following the outbreak of an epizootic disease that wiped out several herds from the region in those days. But, tribals living in the forests continued to claim that white gaurs were still there in Chinnar.

In 1998, the then wildlife warden of Eravikulam, Mohan Alambath, his range officer, V. K. Franzis, and a wildlife enthusiast, V. P. Ajithkumar, claimed sighting this animal in Chinnar. Though they reported the matter in the journal of BNHS, the photograph they had taken of the animal lacked clarity.

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