Context: Nilgiri tahr’s population up 27% in three years in TN. According to officials, the almost 8% increase in the population of the iconic animal in 2019 follows a similarly significant increase in its population in 2018. Officials said the upward trend was good news, as the new data reinforced last year’s findings.
Prelims: Environment & Ecology
Mains: GS III
- Nilgiri tahrs are stocky goats with short, coarse fur and a bristly mane.
- Males are larger than females and have a darker color 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 weigh 80-100 kg.
- Adult males develop a light grey area or “saddle” on their backs and are hence called “saddlebacks”.
- It is the state animal of Tamil Nadu.
- Nilgiri Tahr is generally found in open montane grassland habitat of the South Western Ghats montane rain forests ecoregion.
- It is endemic to the Nilgiri Hills and the southern portion of the Western Ghats (Shola grasslands) in the states of Tamil Nadu and Kerala in Southern India (ex: Anamalai Hills, Palni Hills).
- IUCN in its red data book has classified it as Endangered (number fewer than 2,500 mature individuals).
- It is protected species under Schedule I of Wildlife (Protection) Act of 1972.
- Habitat loss (mainly from domestic livestock and spread of invasive plants)
- Poaching is a major threat to their existence.
- Populations of these animals are small and isolated, making them vulnerable to local extinction.
- Competition from domestic livestock, whose overgrazing has allowed for the invasion of graze-resistant weedy species into preferred meadows, thus in competition with the native grasses that tahr prefers.