Nilgiri Tahr

Nilgiri Tahr

Kingdom
Phylum
Subphylum
Class
Order
Family
Subfamily
SPECIES
Nilgiritragus hylocrius
Population size
1,800-2,000
Life Span
3-9 yrs
WEIGHT
50-100 kg
HEIGHT
80-110 cm
LENGTH
90-140 cm

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".

Distribution

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 Tahr habitat map

Geography

Continents
Subcontinents
Countries

Climate zones

Habits and Lifestyle

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.

Seasonal behavior

Diet and Nutrition

Nilgiri tahrs are herbivores (graminivores, folivores). They feed on various grasses, shrubs, leaves, and forbs.

Mating Habits

MATING BEHAVIOR
REPRODUCTION SEASON
year-round, peak in July-August
PREGNANCY DURATION
6-7 months
BABY CARRYING
1 kid
INDEPENDENT AGE
4-6 months
BABY NAME
kid

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.

Population

Population threats

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.

Population number

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.

Fun Facts for Kids

  • Despite their local name, Nilgiri tahrs are more closely related to the sheep than the ibex and wild goats.
  • The genus name of the Nilgiri tahr Nilgiritragus is derived from the Tamil word Neelagiri meaning 'blue hills' and the Greek word trágos meaning 'goat'.
  • The Nilgiri tahr is the state animal of Tamil Nadu (one of the 28 states of India).

References

1. Nilgiri Tahr on Wikipedia - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nilgiri_tahr
2. Nilgiri Tahr on The IUCN Red List site - https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/9917/13026736

More Fascinating Animals to Learn About