Nilgiri Tahr, Valparai, Tamil Nadu

Ramki Sreenivasan


Chosen as 'Picture of the Week'

The Nilgiri tahr is an endemic mountain ungulate found in the high-altitude shola habitats of the Southern Western Ghats. Loss of habitat, competition with domestic livestock, poaching, and climate change are some of the major threats to tahrs. 

The Nilgiri tahr (Nilgiritragus hylocrius) is an endemic mountain ungulate species found in the shola habitats of the Southern Western Ghats. Hunting and habitat loss have restricted them to a few fragmented pockets. Though they occur in the Palani hills, Srivilliputtur, and the Meghamalai and Agasthiyar ranges, only two well-protected, large populations are well known, one from the Nilgiris and the other from the Anamalais including the higher ranges of Kerala.  

Nilgiri tahrs are rare and can be seen solitarily or in small groups of 5-8 individuals. This saddleback (male) was seen on the hairpin bends of Valparai via SH 78. They mate throughout the year, but there is a birth peak in winter. A single offspring is born after a gestation period of 180 days, and females can give birth twice in one year. 

Nilgiri tahr is currently listed as Endangered in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species and is protected under Schedule I of the Wildlife (Protection) Act of India, 1972. A 2018 study predicted that most of the existing habitats of the Nilgiri Tahr in the Western Ghats will become unsuitable as climate change intensifies. Loss of habitat, competition with domestic livestock, poaching, and climate change are some of the major threats to tahrs. 

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