Himalayan Tahr

Himalayan Tahr

Kaarth, Meshi, Taheer, Himalayan tahr

2 languages
Kingdom
Phylum
Subphylum
Class
Order
Family
Subfamily
Genus
SPECIES
Hemitragus jemlahicus
Population size
Unknown
Life Span
14-22 yrs
Weight
36-90 kg
Height
65-100 cm
Length
90-140 cm

The Himalayan tahr (Hemitragus jemlahicus ) is a large even-toed ungulate native to the Himalayas in southern Tibet, northern India, western Bhutan and Nepal. It is listed as Near Threatened on the IUCN Red List, as the population is declining due to hunting and habitat loss.

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A recent phylogenetic analysis indicates that the genus Hemitragus is monospecific, and that the Himalayan tahr is a wild goat.

The Himalayan tahr has been introduced to Argentina, New Zealand, South Africa and the United States.

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Di

Diurnal

Cr

Crepuscular

He

Herbivore

Gr

Graminivore

Fo

Folivore

Te

Terrestrial

Pr

Precocial

Gr

Grazing

Br

Browsing

Co

Congregatory

Po

Polygyny

So

Social

He

Herding

No

Not a migrant

H

starts with

Appearance

The Himalayan tahr is a large wild goat that lives on the mountain slopes and in the forests of the Himalayas. It has a small head, small pointed ears, large eyes, and horns that vary between males and females. The coloration of tahr is well adapted to the harsh climate of the Himalayans. They have thick, reddish wool coats and thick undercoats, indicative of the conditions of their habitat. Their coats thin with the end of winter and become lighter in color. This shedding is presumably an adaptation that allows their internal body temperatures to adjust to the harsh temperatures of the Himalayan Mountains.

Distribution

Geography

Himalayan tahrs are native to the Himalayas in southern Tibet, northern India, and Nepal. They are adapted to life in a cool climate with rocky terrain, which allows them to be found in mountainous areas. Himalayan tahrs most often inhabit locations where vegetation is exposed for browsing and grazing. During the winter (when snow covers vegetation at higher elevations), they move to lower-altitude slopes.

Himalayan Tahr habitat map

Climate zones

Himalayan Tahr habitat map
Himalayan Tahr
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Habits and Lifestyle

Himalayan tahrs are gregarious animals. They live in all-male and all-female herds that usually include up to 80 members. These animals are typically active in the early morning and late afternoon. They spend most of their time grazing on grasses or browsing on leaves and some fruits; their short legs allow them to balance while reaching for the leaves of shrubs and small trees. Each day Himalayan tahrs perform altitude movements. During the night, they move to locations with lower elevations to have better access to resources such as food and water, whereas, during the day, they move to locations with higher elevations to rest and avoid predators. This mobile behavior not only allows tahrs to seek refuge from predators but also allows them to have access to resources over a large area.

Seasonal behavior

Diet and Nutrition

Himalayan tahrs are herbivores (graminivores, folivores). Their diet includes grasses, herbs, leaves, and some fruits.

Mating Habits

MATING BEHAVIOR
REPRODUCTION SEASON
late October-January
PREGNANCY DURATION
180-242 days
BABY CARRYING
1 kid
INDEPENDENT AGE
2.5 years
BABY NAME
kid

Himalayan tahrs are polygynous meaning that one male mates with multiple females. The breeding season usually takes place from late October to January. During the rut, males often compete with other males for access to females. Factors that contribute to reproductive success include large body size, large horn size, and high aggression. Coat color is a factor that determines rank among Himalayan tahrs, and males with light coats mate more often. Pregnant females leave their herds for giving birth and then return after the young were born. The gestation period lasts 180-242 days. Usually, one kid is born; it is precocial and can stand soon after birth. At the age of 6 months, the young is weaned but it will remain with the mother for about 2 years more.

Population

Population threats

The main threats to Himalayan tahrs include uncontrolled hunting and habitat loss due to deforestation. These animals also suffer severe competition for grazing areas with domestic sheep and goats. Avalanches during the winter with high snowfalls can also be a significant factor in the mortality of Himalayan tahrs.

Population number

The IUCN Red List and other sources don’t provide the number of the Himalayan tahr total population size. According to the IUCN Red List specific populations of this species have been estimated in such areas: around 400-500 individuals in China; around 130 individuals in the Kanawar Wildlife Sanctuary and greater than 100 individuals in the Great Himalayan National Park, both in Himachal Pradesh (India); 180 individuals in the Kedarnath Wildlife Sanctuary (India); 50 individuals in the Tirthan valley of the Great Himalayan National Park (India); 297 individuals in Uttarakhand (India); approximately 1,000 individuals for Sagamartha, Makalu-Barun (and Conservation Area) and Langtang National Parks (Nepal); over 500 individuals in Annapurna Base Camp (Nepal); 285 individuals in Dhorpatan Hunting Reserve (Nepal). Overall, currently, the Himalayan tahr is classified as Near Threatened (NT) on the IUCN Red List and its numbers today are decreasing.

Fun Facts for Kids

  • The word "tahr" is derived from the Nepali word 'thār' and was first used in English writings in 1835.
  • The horns of the Himalayan tahr are curved backward, preventing injury during mating season when headbutting is a common mating ritual among males.
  • As a member of the ungulate group of mammals, the Himalayan tahr possesses an even number of toes. They have adapted the unique ability to grasp both smooth and rough surfaces that are typical of the mountainous terrain on which tahrs reside. This useful characteristic also helps their mobility.
  • The hooves of the Himalayan tahr have a rubber-like core which allows for gripping smooth rocks; keratin at the rim of their hooves allows increased hoof durability, which is important for traversing the rocky ground. This adaptation allows Himalayan tahrs for confident and swift maneuvering of the terrain.
  • Himalayan tahrs, like most members of the bovid family, are ruminants and have complex digestive systems. A multi-chambered stomach allows these animals to repeatedly regurgitate their food, chew it, and obtain nutrients from otherwise indigestible plant tissues.
  • The Himalayan tahr has been introduced to Argentina, New Zealand, South Africa and the United States.

References

1. Himalayan Tahr on Wikipedia - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Himalayan_tahr
2. Himalayan Tahr on The IUCN Red List site - https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/9919/22152905

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