The Nilgiri Tahr (Mammalia: Cetartiodactyla: Bovidae: Nilgiritragus hylocrius Ogilby, 1838) in the Agastyamalai range, Western Ghats, India: population status and threats

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Ponniah Hopeland
Jean-Philippe Puyravaud
Priya Davidar


The Nilgiri Tahr (Nilgiritragus hylocrius Ogilby, 1838) has not been comprehensively surveyed in the southern Western Ghats, India.  Here we present results of a survey conducted in 2012 and 2013 in 25 sites where Nilgiri Tahr was reported in Agastyamalai range south of the Shencottah gap.  The objectives of the survey were to assess population status; evaluate threats and propose conservation measures. In each site the geographical coordinates were noted.  If Nilgiri Tahr (=Tahr) were sighted, the number and herd structure were recorded.  Indirect signs of Tahr presence such as faecal pellets and feedback from local informants were noted in sites with no direct sightings of Tahr.  The total sightings were 247 Tahr in 10 sites, and indication of Tahr presence in seven sites.  Only two populations viz. Kalamalai-Varraiattumudi and Muthukulivayal-Balamore were large (>30 individuals).  Tahr were not present in eight sites: of which four had earlier records of Tahr presence, and the other four had no prior data.  There was a significant positive association between percentage of young (kids and yearlings) and number of Tahr sighted.  Illegal hunting was widespread in the past, and continues to be a serious threat.  Loss of Tahr grazing habitat to successional processes resulting in increased tree cover, is a long term threat that could increase with climate change.  A landscape level management plan to reconnect small populations, rehabilitate Tahr in sites where they have disappeared, use fire to restore short grass habitats, and stringent curb on illegal hunting is required for the long term viability of the Nilgiri Tahr in this region. 


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Author Biography

Priya Davidar, Department of Ecology and Environmental Sciences, Pondicherry University, Kalapet, Pondicherry 605014, India

I am a Professor at Pondicherry University specialised in conservation biology


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