19th Sep, 2019
The population of Nilgiri Tahr in the Mukurthi National Park has risen from 568 in 2018 to 612 this year.
- This is the second consecutive year that an increase in the population of the animal had been recorded in the park.
- The almost 8% increase in the population of the iconic animal in 2019 follows a similarly significant increase in its population in 2018.
- Nilgiri tahrs are stocky goats with short, coarse fur and a bristly mane.
- Males are larger than the females, and have a darker colour when mature. Both sexes have curved horns, which are larger in the males, reaching up to 40 cm for males and 30 cm for females.
- Adult males develop a light grey area or “saddle” on their backs and are hence called “saddlebacks”
- IUCN status - Endangered
- The Nilgiri tahr symbolizes the conflicts inherent in conservation of threatened fauna and their habitat.
- Their number totals around 2200-2500 individuals in the wild.
- Nilgiri tahrs exist only in small, isolated populations due to extreme habitat fragmentation and illegal hunting. They are, as a result, vulnerable to local extinction.
- The reasons for the decline of tahr populations have not been fully understood.
- The species has always been under severe stress on account of the construction of numerous hydroelectric projects, timber felling and monoculture plantation of eucalyptus and wattles.
- All these development activities, especially the plantation activities affect the heart of the tahr habitat, which are the grasslands – sholas.
MUKURTHI NATIONAL PARK
- It is located on the high altitudes of the Nilgiris, comprising rolling downs interspersed with temperate sholas in depressions.
- The landscape is extremely pictruesque and a seat of endemism in its relationship with Himalayan flora and fauna. This forms part of the Nilgiris biosphere reserve.
- Forest Type - Primarily grassland, characteristically interspersed with numerous isolated, compact, sharply defined montane wet temperate mixed forests locally termed ‘Sholas’, with beautiful brooks.