The Nilgiri tahr is an ungulate that lives high in the mountains of southern India. It has a stocky body with short, coarse fur and a bristly mane. Males are larger than females and of darker color when mature. Both sexes have curved horns, and adult males develop a light grey area on their backs, thus are called "saddlebacks".
Nilgiri tahrs are native to the Nilgiri Hills and the southern portion of the Western & Eastern Ghats in the states of Tamil Nadu and Kerala in Southern India. They live in open montane grasslands of the South Western Ghats montane rain forests ecoregion. These grassland habitats are surrounded by dense forests at the lower elevations.
Nilgiri tahrs are social animals and live in herds that may consist of 6 individuals or as large as 100-150; these herds may be mixed or contain only males or only adult females and their young. Nilgiri tahrs are active between dawn and dusk. During midday, herds usually rest in shades of cliff faces which also serve as a cover when tahrs escape from predators. While the herd is resting one member remains alert watching for predators. Nilgiri tahrs have very acute eyesight and are able to spot danger at a far distance; with any sight of a danger, they produce an alarm call that sounds as a snort or whistle.
Nilgiri tahrs are polygynous meaning that males mate with more than one female. They may breed year-round but the peak of the rutting season usually occurs at the end of July and continues until August. Females can give birth twice per year. They usually give birth to a single young after a gestation period that lasts around 6-7 months. For the first few weeks the newly born infant, called kid remains hidden while the mother leaves to feed. At the age of 2 months, the kid is able to follow its mother. The young will be completely weaned at 4 or 6 months and reach reproductive maturity at around 3 years of age.
The main threats to Nilgiri tahrs are habitat loss mainly due to overgrazing of domestic livestock and the spread of invasive plants, illegal hunting, and climate change.
According to the IUCN Red List, the total Nilgiri tahr population size is around 1,800-2,000 individuals. Currently, this species is classified as Endangered (EN) and its numbers today are decreasing.