Tauren (shu'halo in their native language of Taur-ahe) are huge nomadic creatures who live on the grassy, open plains of Mulgore in central Kalimdor. Tauren are large, muscular humanoids and bovine in appearance, complete with hooves and horns. They stand anywhere from six and a half to nine feet tall and weigh anywhere from 400 to 700 pounds. Their immense bodies are covered with fine, short fur that ranges in color from black to gray to white to red to brown to tan and any mottled combinations or variations thereof. After generations of nomadic existence, the tauren have recently made permanent settlements in Mulgore and the Barrens.
The peaceful tauren—known in their own tongue as the shu’halo—have long dwelled in Kalimdor, striving to preserve the balance of nature at the behest of their goddess, the Earth Mother. Until recently, the tauren lived as nomads scattered throughout the Barrens, hunting the great kodo beasts native to the arid region.
Although split into different tribes, the tauren were united by a common enemy: the marauding centaur. These primitive horse-men terrorized central Kalimdor, leaving only death and suffering in their wake. Although the tauren tribes struggled valiantly for survival against their foes, the relentless centaur attacks continued. Over time, the centaur wiped out the area’s wild game, threatening starvation for the beleaguered tauren. During the Third War, the mighty chieftain Cairne Bloodhoof had a chance encounter with the orcish Horde that would alter the destiny of the tauren forever. After befriending Warchief Thrall, Cairne and his Bloodhoof tribe were able to fend off the centaur as they journeyed to the fertile lands of Mulgore. Owing a blood-debt to the orcs for their assistance, the tauren joined Thrall on Mount Hyjal to defend Kalimdor from an invasion by the demonic Burning Legion.
Following the Legion’s defeat, the tauren who helped defend Hyjal returned to their new home in Mulgore. Ruling from the majestic capital of Thunder Bluff, Cairne welcomed tauren of every tribe to this secure refuge. Many tauren who traveled to the capital were content with Cairne’s vision of a peaceful and harmonious future, but at least one tribe felt otherwise. The stern Grimtotem tribe looked upon Kalimdor’s other races as inferior and believed that its matriarch, Magatha, was the only one fit to rule the tauren. Although Magatha constantly disagreed with Cairne over the direction of their nation, the elder crone nonetheless coexisted alongside him in Thunder Bluff without major incident. The Grimtotem tribe did not, however, join the Horde along with Cairne and the tauren under his rule.
For years the tauren flourished throughout Mulgore, but tragedy befell the noble race following the campaign against the Lich King in Northrend. Believing that the reckless new warchief, Garrosh Hellscream, would lead the Horde to ruin, Cairne challenged the young upstart to a duel. The tauren high chieftain fought with a ferocity that belied his age, but an act of betrayal had sealed his fate before the battle had even begun. Unbeknownst to either of the duel’s combatants, Magatha had poisoned Garrosh’s blade. After Cairne was wounded by the tainted weapon during combat, he was immobilized by the poison, and Garrosh was able to slay him.
Following the high chieftain’s death, Magatha’s Grimtotem agents stormed Thunder Bluff and seized the tauren capital as their own. They had also hoped to murder Cairne’s son, Baine, but the young tauren managed to elude his would-be assassins. After formulating a strategy to exact retribution upon Magatha, Baine launched a counterattack and wrested Thunder Bluff from the hands of the treacherous matriarch. Ultimately, rather than spill further blood, Baine banished Magatha and all other Grimtotem who still supported her from tauren lands.
Despite the deadly encounter between Cairne and Garrosh, the tauren have not abandoned their place in the Horde. While many chaotic events have transpired in recent months, Baine has bravely taken up the mantle of tauren leadership and is now focused on ruling just as his wise and benevolent father would have.