I woke up with a call today from my friend saying, there’s an Indian Gaur (aka Indian Bison) in the open plot next to his house, five minutes from my place- in a housing society (Mahatma Society) at the foothills of Mahatma Hill (one of the connecting hills of Vetal Tekdi). Well, who would believe it? An Indian Gaur, a huge wild Bovine that weighs 800 kgs, that is found no where near Pune City magically appearing next to your friend’s house in the heart of the city? Is this even possible?
Turns out, it is. He sent me a photo which cleared all my doubts of it being just a huge Cow that he might have mistaken as a wild Bison. As I rushed to dress up and get my camera, the news of this sighting had spread like wildfire all over Kothrud area of Pune City.
The Forest Department, Fire Brigade, Pune Municipal Corporation, the Police, ResQ Charitable Trust and a few people from Katraj Wild Animal Rescue and Rehab Centre, all had arrived at the place. The police had placed barricades to block the crowding public from entering the place where the Gaur was, while the rest of the authorities were trying to capture it and get it to safety. However, it wasn’t an easy task at all.
Nets and ropes were placed to restrict the Gaur from leaving the site while tranquillisers were being prepared to calm the Bull down. I was standing away from the scene hoping to document the rescue operation. However, it was not possible to go to the actual spot as it wasn’t safe for us as well as the animal and letting the Rescue Experts do their job safely was of utmost priority.
A lot of time passed but there were no changes in the scenario. The Fire Brigade and the Rescue Team were still there at the spot and the crowding of people had increased here, with journalists from around 4 different news channels reporting live. The scene wasn’t visible to us and from what we heard, the bull had been tranquillised once. We thought that the mission was successful and that the Bull would now be brought to safety in their rescue truck. But that wasn’t the end of it.
The Bull broke the nets, evaded the big trucks and vehicles and revealed itself on the road. It started running in the direction of the crowd where the barricades were placed. We immediately ran in the lane next to us clearing the street. The Bull was in full speed and took an easy leap over the tall barricades to disappear somewhere in the network of small lanes. We all were stunned to see how easily the massive, heavy bull crossed the barricades. The two Fire Brigade trucks along with several police and rescue vehicles followed him.
Photos by my friend Aditya Kinjawadekar, who initially called me in the morning
The Bull had been cornered by these vehicles somewhere down the lane, however he managed to evade them again. The Bull was seriously injured on the face and was bleeding, as he had crashed on a gate and some cars apparently, in the early hours. No humans were hurt. The Rescue mission went on for around three hours as the Bull had managed to evade the blockade of the huge fire trucks as well as the rescue vehicles several times. It even jumped tall walls, before making its way through the main road, away from Mahatma Society into some other small lane. I can imagine how shocked the traffic would be on the main road to see this huge Gaur running cross road, being followed by the authorities. Everybody present there was surprised to see such a huge and heavy bull easily dodging all the obstructions in his way.
He was finally captured, tranquillised and put in a Rescue Truck to be carried away at an Animal Rescue Centre for its treatment.
Blood loss of the Gaur due to its injuries. Swipe only if you are comfortable seeing it
Later in the evening, it was confirmed that the Gaur couldn’t make it. Official sources say that he died due to over exertion, high body temperature and stress. A post mortem report would confirm the exact cause of the death. It was unfortunate.
This was an extra-ordinary incident that happened literally at the heart of Pune City. It raises a few concerns of man-animal conflicts as well. The nearest habitat of Indian Gaur around Pune is at Tamhini and Mulshi, both of which are more than 50km away from the city (facts point out that this Gaur wandered off into the city from these forests only).
Spotting an Indian Gaur somewhere deep inside the city is unimaginable and extremely rare. It is believed that there still are some wild corridors that connect these forests to the city. Maintaining these corridors for the free movement of animals and protecting the forests is extremely important to avoid the chances of these animals from entering the city and to avoid man-animal conflicts.