A fortnight ago, Sarangi, a sleepy hamlet in K R Pet woke up to the sight of a “surprise guest” from the forests. Crowds began to gather at the village, and intimidated, the gaur gored 70-year-old Sakamma to death, before going into hiding.
In an hour’s time, the gaur was spotted in the sugarcane fields of a farmer at Kaigonahalli, about four kms from Sarangi village. It continued to play hide and seek with villagers in the region. The gaur was once spotted at Santhebachahalli, then elsewhere. Meanwhile, it had injured another person.
Efforts by a host of forest officials led by Deputy Conservator of Forests Vinaykumar, Assistant Conservator of Forests Shankar and Range Forest Officer Ramesh to locate the gaur and tranquilise it were in vain.
Meanwhile, people chased the gaur without comprehending the animal’s fear or anxiety. Forest officials tried to calm the crowd, but that was not to be. The gaur was sighted again in a banana plantation at Sundahalli and Sayatanahalli, quietly feeding on banana leaves, but on seeing people, it escaped. After 14 hours, it was spotted at Malligeri village on the border of Pandavapura and K R Pet taluk. Because darkness had fallen by then, forest officials decided to resume the hunt the next day.
The next morning, there was no sight of the gaur, and villagers began to assume that it had escaped. It was some time later that forest officials received information of an animal found dead in the backwaters of the Cauvery near Yaraganahalli, about 20 km from Malligeri.
Forest personnel reached the spot to see the carcass of an Indian gaur floating in the Cauvery. Deputy Conservator of Forests Vinaykumar told Spectrum that it is still a mystery as to which forest the Indian gaur came from.
The nearest forest is in the Hassan region, around 60 km from K R Pet. Gaurs are generally sighted in the Nagarhole and Bandipur forests, and not so much in the plains.
They generally live in herds and can live in altitudes of up to 1,800 metres. It is estimated that there are around 1,000 gaurs across the world. The gaur is known to be a timid animal and avoids confrontation unless it is provoked.