Saving Nepal’s only bovine in the seasonally dry sub-tropical Churia region

Large bovine with curved horns

The gaur, the world's largest bovine, is found in regions such as Chitwan National Park, Parsa National Park, and Trijuga valley in Nepal. Known for its large head, deep chest, and muscular shoulder ridge, the gaur adapts well to rugged terrains and dense forests if water sources are adequate. It is listed as a vulnerable species by the IUCN, with a population of 473 in Nepal as of 2019. However, habitat loss, forest fires, hunting, and climate change—including drought—are significant threats to its survival.

To address these threats, WWF Nepal and the Wildlife Adaption Innovation Fund are implementing a project focusing on improving water availability and reducing forest fire risks for gaurs in Parsa National Park. The project involves several key activities such as the construction and maintenance of a 1.2-acre artificial wetland, the restoration of a half-acre wetland, and the construction of a 6.2-mile fireline— strips of land that have been cleared of flammable vegetation, preventing uncontained fires from spreading further—to prevent habitat degradation.

The project aims to enhance the habitat for gaur and other species like tigers by ensuring water availability and minimizing forest fires in one of the driest protected areas in the region. Creating a more suitable habitat for these animals means they will also be less likely to encroach into human settlements in search of water. The successful outcomes of this project could lead to its expansion across the Churia range, supporting wildlife in other protected areas facing similar challenges. By addressing water scarcity and fire risks, the project seeks to create a more resilient environment for the gaur under changing climate conditions.