The Nilgiri Tahr (Nilgiritragus hylocrius) is an endangered species of mountain goat that is endemic to the Western Ghats of India. It is primarily found in the states of Kerala and Tamil Nadu, with its largest population in the Nilgiri Hills, from which it gets its name.
Here are some key features and information about the Nilgiri Tahr:
- Physical Appearance: The Nilgiri Tahr is a stocky animal with a robust build. Adult males, known as “bulls,” are larger than females, known as “nannies.” Bulls can reach a height of up to 100 to 120 cm (3.3 to 3.9 feet) at the shoulder, while nannies are slightly smaller. They have a shaggy coat that varies in color from dark brown to grayish-brown. During the breeding season, males develop a light-colored saddle-like patch on their back.
- Habitat: Nilgiri Tahrs inhabit the montane grasslands and cliffs of the Western Ghats. They are adapted to living in rugged, rocky terrain and are often found in steep slopes and cliffs. They are known to occupy elevations ranging from 1,200 to 2,600 meters (3,900 to 8,500 feet) above sea level.
- Diet: Nilgiri Tahrs are herbivores and mainly feed on grasses, shrubs, leaves, and other vegetation found in their habitat. Their specialized digestive system allows them to efficiently extract nutrients from the tough grasses available in the montane ecosystem.
- Social Structure: Nilgiri Tahrs typically live in small herds composed of adult females and their young, led by a dominant male. During the mating season, dominant males engage in battles for access to females. These fights involve impressive displays of strength and agility as they clash their horns together.
- Conservation Status: The Nilgiri Tahr is listed as an endangered species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Their population has declined due to habitat loss, fragmentation, and hunting in the past. Conservation efforts, including protected areas and captive breeding programs, have been implemented to safeguard their population and habitat.
- Protected Areas: Several national parks and wildlife sanctuaries in the Western Ghats, such as Eravikulam National Park and the Nilgiri Tahr Sanctuary in Kerala, have been established to protect the Nilgiri Tahr and its habitat. These areas provide a safe haven for the species and also offer opportunities for visitors to observe them in their natural habitat.
Observing the Nilgiri Tahr in the wild can be a remarkable experience for nature enthusiasts. However, it is important to maintain a safe distance and follow the guidelines and regulations of the protected areas to ensure the well-being and conservation of these beautiful creatures.
The Nilgiri Tahr is an endangered mountain goat with short but coarse fur. It is endemic to the southern areas of the Western Ghats. Even though Nilgiri Tahr is an endangered species, the number of them has increased in recent years because of strict protection. The well-known Eravikulam National Park holds the largest number of this species in the world. Planning a trip to Munnar and the nearby Rajamala provides you the chance to spot this rare animal.
Locally known as ‘Nilgiri Ibex’, you can see the goat antelope, Nilgiri Tahr, in the mountain regions of South India. The male and females of them have remarkable differences. The males of Nilgiri Tahr are dark brown in color with a dash of black and almost 1 meter tall at the shoulder. They weigh around 100 kilograms. Females are grayish in color and slightly smaller than the males. Both of them have coarse and short coats. You can see backward-curving horns in both the males and females. Old males of this species have whitish hairs on the rump which look like a saddle and are known as ‘saddlebacks’.
Nilgiri Tahrs are usually found high up in the mountains on grass-covered plateaus and cliffs. You can see them at high altitudes from 1200- 2600 meters above sea level. These species flock with the same sex groups except in the breeding season. Most of them occupy various habitats. Female species of Nilgiri Tahrs are usually seen on the open cliff ledges while males can be seen lower down in the grazing areas.
Nilgiri Tahr Conservation
Although endangered species, Nilgiri Tahrs increased in numbers in recent years. The population has increased because of the strict protection of them in the famous Eravikulam National Park. The conservation objectives also include the study of the behavior and ecology of this beautiful species. They also consider the study of the chances of the re-introduction of the goat antelope.
Eravikulam National Park
Plan a trip to the famous Eravikulam National Park if you wish to spot the endangered Nilgiri Tahr. Travelers to Munnar never forget to visit this park that is spread across 97 square kilometers. This park has taken effective measures for the conservation of species. You can see a wide range of exotic flora and fauna also in this park.