Nilgiri Tahr

Nilgiri Tahr
Nature Beckons you....Listen to her whispers.....

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Eravikulam National Park,The Backyard of Nilgiri Tahrs

Freinds for Ever......Male Nilgiri Tahrs

As we got down from the Kerala Forest Department mini bus at Eravikulam NP,the cool breeze engulfed the lungs and it gave us a feeling of freshness and new energy.It being a Friday the tourist inflow into the park was on a manageable level.Many uninitiated tourists who visit Eravikulam NP,out of compulsion rather than desire,exclaims "Ayye Aadu"(Oh its just a goat!) on getting the first glimpse of the inhabitants of the park.

The Nilgiri Tahrs inhabit an area ranging from 800m to 2700 m above sea level.The highest peak south of Himalayas,Anaimudi,is situated insdie the park.So its obvious that the Tahrs cannot climb more than that!During the turn of the 20th Century,the area surrounding the Eravikulam NP was used as a game reseve.The "Muduvans",the tribes,were the original inhabitants of the area.Then later in 1971,the Nilgiri Tahrs were included in the endangerd list and in 1978 Eravikulam was declared as a Nationanl Park.

Dotting the skyline of Eravikulam NP are Tahrs

Eravikulam National Park is the only reserved forest area for the only mountain goats of South India.About 800-900 tahrs live here.The park is typical Western Ghats region with pristine grasslands interspersed with shola forests.


During the process of writing this blog came the happy news,that UNESCO has decalred the Westeern Ghats as one of the "hottest hotspots" of the world.In other words they have included Western Ghats in the "Heritage List".Thats something,every Indian shoud rejoice.

Coming back to the Tahrs,the only mountain goats of South India,were numbering in the thousands by the turn of the 20th century.But their numbers dwindled drastically because of hunting and on habitat loss.Good sense prevailed and the Eravikulam National Park came into being in 1978.To be fair on our part,it should be accept that the conservation effforts have paid dividents.

Close up view of an eye of a male Tahr

The Nilgiri Tahrs(Nilgiritragus Hylocrius,formerly Hermitragus Hylocrius) belongs to the family, Bovidae.It was first named by Ogilvy in 1838.The Tamil name is 'Varaiyadu"(varai=precipice or cliff,aadu=goat) and the same name in Malayalam.A simple English traslation of Varaiyadu is "Cliff goat".Thats an apt name for them,as they spend most of their time loitering atop prcarious mountain cliffs of EravikulamNP.

Licking and glancing...female Tahr

The grasslands of Eravikulam are known as "Climax Grasslands" because they have reached their ultimate splendour.The Neelakurinji(Strobilanthus Kunthiana) is a rare flower which blooms only once in 12 years.The last time we saw them was in 2006.So the next season arrives only by 2018!

Coming back to our visit,after getting down from the mini forest department vehicle we started climbing the 2-3 hair-pin bends to reach the other end of the park.On the way we saw the first Nilgiri Tahr,a young one,with its mother sitting and relaxing.The view was thru a Neelakrinji plant and it was refreshing.I could take quite a few pictures using my Canon DSLR,and I used a tripod for sharper pictures.

Unbreakable freindship......

One forest guard(they are present thru out the park to check on the visitors)told me to go further up the road as more Tahrs are munching on the grass there.As soon as he said that,the little Tahr and its mother along with another Tahr started to walk towards the point where the other Tahrs are supposed to be grazing.Even these Tahrs wants us to meet the other members of their clan,or so it seemed.

Always hungry.....
As soon as we reached the higher point, our excitement over flowed.For the first time in my life I saw two male Nilgiri Tahrs grazing side by side as if they were thick friends!The male Nilgiri Tahrs are very less in number and spotting them at Eravikulam is very difficult.Even if on gets to see the female Tahrs and the young ones,the male gives the slip most of the time.But now we have two of them together.That was a wonderful moment.Our trip,this time to the park,I can say with admiration,has been fulfilling.

Calm and confident.......
The male tahrs grazed on despite our close presence(We never disturbed them).They would munch enough grass from one side of the road and then thud across to the other side for more.I didn't miss the opportunity to click as many pics as possible of the two males.At one point both of them walked out of sight from the far end of the park(beyond that you are not allowed to go)much to the disappointmet of us.But,after a few moments they came marching back, just to the side of us!It was amazing to watch them criss crossing the Eravikulam NP.

Up Close with this Guy.......

We spend about 3 hours watching the Tahrs and photographing them.I was carring 2 memory cards which can store 8mb of images.I took around 580 photos of the tahrs!Still I wasn't happy.I wanted more.But no more memorycards!I decided at that time,the first thing I must do once we are back home.I think you have guessed it correct!

Looking for mates?

It was time to have some tea and some snacks at the restaurant at the entrance of the Eravikulam NP.After that it was time to board the forest vehicle to reach the Munnar-Udumalaipettai raod to get into our car and drive back to the hotel.

Stare of a Nilgiri Tahr

Cliff dwellers.....Nilgiri Tahrs

This trip to Munnar have been very satisfying.The sight of two male Nilgiri Tahrs was unforgettable.Most of us may not accept that to be a great achievement.But for me and my family that was a good experience.We are not sure if that would happen again.............

For a short film of the trip,please click on the following link.......

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