|Freinds for Ever......Male Nilgiri Tahrs|
|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.
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.
|Calm and confident.......|
|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.......