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10 Facts About Nilgiri Tahrs

Angela, an animal lover, has a passion for learning and understanding God's creatures. As a born teacher, she enjoys sharing her knowledge.

1. The Nigliri Tahr Is the Largest of the Tahrs

There are three tahrs, the Arabian Tahr, the Himilayan Tahr, and the Nilgiri Tahr. The Nilgiri Tahr is the largest at about 100 centimeters at shoulder height,100 kilograms, and 150 centimeters in length. The males are a little larger than the females. Females may be as small as 80 centimeters at shoulder height, 50 kilograms, and 110 centimeters in length.

2. Male's Coloring Changes As They Age

Nilgiri Tahr is born with a gray coat with no facial markings or carpal patches. After about ten to fourteen weeks, their fur becomes tan and fluffy. This coat will shed at twenty weeks when it will become gray again, but its carpal patch will become black.

The adult male Nilgiri Tahr has a dark brown to blue coat overall, while others are a dark yellowish-brown to a deep chocolate brown. Their saddle patch changes colors as they age. A young tahr will have an off-white or tan saddle patch, their legs are black, and their shoulders and neck are dark browns. At about seven years old, their saddle patch turns more silvery, and the dark color on their legs begins to extend towards their shoulders. After they turn eight, their whole saddle patch will be a silvery color, and the black will have spread across them, even along their neck.

The females are lighter in color and will be a dusky brown or yellowish-brown.

3. Their Horns Reveal Their Age

The horns curve towards the animal's back. The inside of the horn surface is almost flat, while the back and outside are rounded. They contain growth rings that develop annually, revealing a tahr's age. These wrinkles cover about two-thirds of the horns' surface; the remaining third at the tip is smooth. Males have longer, more massive horns. This difference becomes more pronounced in the second and third years when males have rapid growth. A male's horns can grow as long as 44 centimeters, although females tend to grow 26 centimeters. The Nilgiri Tahr's horns are more significant than those of the Himalayan Tahr.

4. Males are Polygamists

Male Nilgiri Tahrs mate with as many females as they can attain. The strongest and healthiest males tend to father the most children because, to achieve a female for mating, they must battle other males. Although breeding does happen throughout the year, they mate most frequently in the winter months.

5. Nilgiri Tahr Breed Well in Captivity

Fortunately, Nilgiri tahrs breed very well in captivity, which helps increase their numbers. In the wild, they can breed up to twice in one year and usually have one offspring at a time. Although twins do occur, it is scarce. They are pregnant for 6-8 months and are often two years of age before they have reached their sexual maturity.

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6. They Have a Very Short Life Expectancy

Since a Nilgiri Tahr only becomes sexually mature at age two, it is sad to know that their average life expectancy is only three years old. Due to the short life expectancy, many only reproduce once before they die, which does not allow the numbers to populate at an increasing rate. Fortunately, a Nilgiri tahr can reproduce twice in one year.

7. They Are Nicknamed Cliff Goat

Because the Nilgiri Tahr live on steep rocky cliffs, they have gotten the nickname Varai Aadu, which translates to cliff goat. Since their primary food source is grass, they live close to many lush, healthy grasslands. Steep cliffs shelter these grasslands. There is plenty of rainfall with at least 1500 mm annually and only a very short dry season. Some areas where they live get as much as 4000 mm of precipitation, mainly between June and August, the monsoon season. Due to the elevation of where tahrs live, the trees rarely reach more than ten meters high.

8. The Nilgiri Tahr Nearly Became Extinct in the 19th Century

In the late 19th century, they nearly became extinct. Fortunately, with the assistance of the Nilgiri Game Association and the High Range Game Association, they have been able to rebound in their numbers. The Indian Wildlife Act of 1972 also helped, as they had limited how much the tahrs could be hunted. Since then, their population has reached nearly 2,000.

9. They Compete for Food With Domestic Animals

Unfortunately, their biggest competitor for food is domestic animals. They often are found foraging anywhere livestock grazes. Local farmers fear that they are intruding on their livestock, and it will interfere with the health of their livestock. Plus, the herd will often keep Nilgiri Tahr from eating in certain areas, limiting the places where it can thrive.

10. It's Closest Living Relative Is the Sheep

Despite being considered a tahr, it is more closely related to the sheep than either the Himilayan or Arabian Tahr. Up until 2005, the Nilgiri Tahr was classified as the genus Hemitragus, which is the genus both the Himilayan and Arabian Tahrs share. Once they analyzed the genetics, they changed it to its own genus, Nilgiritragus, which is more similar to the family Ovis, which are sheep, than the Hemitragus, which are tahrs.


© 2019 Angela Michelle Schultz


Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on December 28, 2019:

Thank you for sharing this information. I enjoyed learning about the Nilgiri Tahr and looking at the photos of the animal. It's a shame that it has such a short life expectancy.

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