The Conservation of the Nilgiri tahr (Nilgiritragus hylocrius), an Endangered Mountain Goat Endemic to Western Ghats

  • P. S. Easa
  • Mohan Alembath


The Nilgiri tahr, Nilgiritragus hylocrius, is an endangered mountain goat endemic to Western Ghats. It is a social animal with strong preference for high altitude grassland shola habitat. Literature on the status, distribution, ecology and behaviour were referred. Personal discussions were held with researchers and officials of tahr areas and field visits were made to most of the tahr habitats. A workshop was organized with active involvement of all the concerned for information on distribution and conservation status of tahr and identifying priority areas for conservation. The tahr population exists in several metapopulations. These data were compiled in geographic information system databases (Arcview–GIS) and distribution mapped. Based on the geographical continuity, three landcsapes are identified and Tahr Conservation Units demarcated. Conservation challenges are identified, discussed and suggestions made for conservation of Nilgiri tahr.


Nilgiri tahr Nilgiritragus hylocrius Western Ghats Endemic Conservation Endangered Caprini Sholagrassland 



The authors are grateful to the officials of Tamil Nadu and Kerala Forest Department for their support during the field visits and input. Thanks to the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change for the financial support through Tamil Nadu. The special interest taken by Shri Sunder Raj IFS, the then Chief Wildlife Warden of Tamil Nadu; Shri S. A. Raju, the then Wildlife Warden, Srivilliputhur Grizzled Squirrel Wildlife Sanctuary; Shri T. M. Manoharan, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests; Dr. K. P. Ouseph, Chief Conservator of Forests (WL); Shri E. R. C. Davidar; Dr. Clifford G. Rice; Shri P. Pramod IFS; Shri James Zacharias; and Dr. Ranjith Daniels are remembered with gratitude. Dr. M. Balasubramanian, Conservation Biologist, Parambikulam Tiger Conservation Foundation, Kerala, prepared all the maps and provided useful inputs to the whole process.


  1. Abraham SK, Easa PS, Sivaram M (2006) Status and distribution of Nilgiri Tahr Hemitragus hylocrius in Kerala part of the Western Ghats. Zoos’ Print J 21:2379–2385CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bala T (2001) Habitat analysis of the Nilgiri Tahr (Hemitragus hylocrius Ogilby) in Palnis using remote sensing and GIS. MSc thesis, University of Pondicherry, PondicherryGoogle Scholar
  3. Caughley G (1994) Directions in conservation biology. J Anim Ecol 63:215–244CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Daniels RJR, Easa PS, Alembath M, Arumugam R, Ramkumar K, Mammen PC (2006) Status survey of the endemic and endangered Nilgiri Tahr (Hemitragus hylocrius). Technical report, Care Earth/Wildlife Trust of IndiaGoogle Scholar
  5. Davidar ERC (1963) Census of the Nilgiri Tahr Hemitragus hylocrius Ogilby in the Nilgiris. J Bombay Nat Hist Soc 60:251–252Google Scholar
  6. Davidar ERC (1971) A note on the status of the Nilgiri Tahr in the grass hills in the Anamalais. J Bombay Nat Hist Soc 68(2):347–354Google Scholar
  7. Davidar ERC (1972) Nilgiri Tahr (Hemitragus hylocrius) ‘saddle backs’. J Bombay Nat Hist Soc 69:173–174Google Scholar
  8. Davidar ERC (1975) The Nilgiri Tahr. Oryx 13:205–211CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Davidar ERC (1976) Census of the Nilgiri Tahr in the Nilgiris, Tamil Nadu. J Bombay Nat Hist Soc 73:143–148Google Scholar
  10. Davidar ERC (1978) Distribution and status of the Nilgiri Tahr (Hemitragus hylocrius) 1975–78. J Bombay Nat Hist Soc 75:815–844Google Scholar
  11. Easa PS (1995) Prey-predator studies in Eravikulam National Park. KFRI research report no 105Google Scholar
  12. Easa PS, Sivaram M (2002) Habitat suitability index model for Nilgiri Tahr Hemitragus hylocrius (Ogilby) in Eravikulam National Park. KFRI research report no 242Google Scholar
  13. Easa PS, Alembath M, Zacharias J, Daniels R (2010) Recovery plan for the Nilgiri Tahr (Nilgiritragus hylocrius). Report submitted to Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India. Asia Biodiversity Conservation Trust and Care Earth Trust, ThrissurGoogle Scholar
  14. Elliott LF, Boyce WM (1992) Implications of captive breeding programs for the conservation of desert bighorn sheep. Desert Bighorn Counc Trans 36:54–57Google Scholar
  15. Fischer C (1915) The Nilgiri wild goat (Hemitragus hylocrius Jerdon). J Bombay Nat Hist Soc 24:189Google Scholar
  16. FitzSimmons NN, Buskirk SW, Smith MH (1995) Population history, genetic variability, and horn growth in bighorn sheep. Conserv Biol 9(2):314–323CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Geist V (1971) Mountain sheep: a study in behavior and evolution. The University of Chicago Press, Chicago/LondonGoogle Scholar
  18. Geist V (1975) On the management of mountain sheep: theoretical considerations. In: Trefethen JB (ed) The wild sheep in modern North America. Boone and Crocket Club, Winchester Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  19. Gilpin ME (1991) The genetic effective size of a metapopulation. Biol J Linn Soc 42:165–175CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Gilpin ME, Soule ME (1986) Minimum viable populations: processes of species extinction. In: Soule ME (ed) Conservation biology: the science of scarcity and diversity. Sinauer Associates, Inc, Sunderland, pp 19–34 S84 ppGoogle Scholar
  21. Hanski I, Gilpin M (1991) Metapopulation dynamics: brief history and conceptual domain. Biol J Linn Soc 42:3–16CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Hanski I, Simberloff D (1997) The metapopulation approach, its history, conceptual domain, and application to conservation. In: Hanski I, Gilpin ME (eds) Metapopulation biology: ecology, genetics, and evolution. Academic, San Diego, pp 5–26CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Harrison S (1994) Metapopulations and conservation. In: Edwards PJ, Webb NR, May RM (eds) Large-scale ecology and conservation. Blackwell Scientific Publications, Oxford, pp 111–128Google Scholar
  24. Hulme M, Viner D (1995) A climate change scenario for assessing the impacts of climate change on tropical rainforest. Reports of the Climate Research Unit, University of Eastern AngliaGoogle Scholar
  25. IPCC (1992) Climate change: the IPCC 1990 and 1992 assessments. World Meteorological Organisation and United Nations Environment ProgrammeGoogle Scholar
  26. Jerdon TC (1874) Mammals of India; natural history of all the animals known to inhabit continental India. John Wheldon, LondonGoogle Scholar
  27. Kerala Forest Department (1989) Status survey of Nilgiri Tahr in Kerala. Government Press, TrivandrumGoogle Scholar
  28. Kinloch A (1926) The Nilgiri Tahr (Hemitragus hylocrius). J Bombay Nat Hist Soc 31(2):520–521Google Scholar
  29. Lacy RC (1997) Importance of genetic variation to the viability of mammalian populations. J Mamm 78(2):320–335CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Lande R (1988) Genetics and demography in biological conservation. Science 241:1455–1460CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  31. Lydekker R (1898) Wild oxen, sheep, and goats of all lands. Rowland Ward, LondonGoogle Scholar
  32. Madhusudan MD (1995) Sexual segregation in the Nilgiri Tahr (Hemitragus hylocrius). Unpublished M.Sc dissertation, Saurashtra University/Wildlife Institute of India, Rajkot/Dehra DunGoogle Scholar
  33. May RM (1991) The role ofecological theory in planning re-introduction of endangered species. Beyond captive breeding: reintroducing endangered mammals to the wild. Symp Zoolo Soc London 62:145–163Google Scholar
  34. Meffe GK, Carroll CR (1994) Principles of conservation biology. Sinauer Associates, Inc, SunderlandGoogle Scholar
  35. Moyle LC, Stinchcombe JR, Hudgens BR, Morris WF (2003) Conservation genetics in the recovery of endangered animal species: a review of US endangered species recovery plans (1977–1998). Anim Biodivers Conserv 26(2):85–95Google Scholar
  36. Murugan (1997) Habitat analysis of the Nilgiri Tahr in the Mukurti National Park. Unpublished report, Nilgiri Wildlife and Environment AssociationGoogle Scholar
  37. Phythian-Adams E (1927) Game preservation in the Nilgiris. J Bombay Nat Hist Soc 32(2):339–343Google Scholar
  38. Phythian-Adams E (1939) The Nilgiris Game Association-1879–1939. J Bombay Nat Hist Soc 41(2):384–396Google Scholar
  39. Phythian-Adams E (1950) Jungle memories. Part VII. J Bombay Nat Hist Soc 49(3):418–426Google Scholar
  40. Prater S (1965) The book of Indian animals. Bombay Natural History Society, BombayGoogle Scholar
  41. Predit MA (2009) Status and current distribution of Nilgiri Tahr – an interim report. WWF India Western Ghats Landscape, CoimbatoreGoogle Scholar
  42. Ravindranath NH, Sukumar R, Deshingkar P (1997) Climate change and forests: imapcts and adaptations, a regional assessment for Western Ghats, India – Atmospheric environment issues in developing countries. Series no. 4. Stockholm Environment Institute, StockholmGoogle Scholar
  43. Regier HA, Robson DS (1967) Estimating population number and mortality rates. In: The biological basis of freshwater fish production. Blackwell Scientific Publications, Oxford, pp 31–66Google Scholar
  44. Rice CG (1984) The behaviour and ecology of the Nilgiri Tahr (Hemitragus hylocrius Ogliby 1838). Unpublished PhD thesis, A & M University, TexasGoogle Scholar
  45. Rice CG (1986) Observations on the predators and prey at Eravikulam National Park, Kerala. J Bombay Nat Hist Soc 83(2):283–303Google Scholar
  46. Rice CG (1988a) Habitat, population dynamics and conservation of the Nilgiri Tahr Hemitragus hylocrius. Biol Conserv 44(3):137–156CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Rice CG (1988b) Reproductive biology of Nilgiri Tahr, Hemitragus hylocrius (Mammalia: Bovidae). J Zool 214(2):269–284CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Rice CG (1990) Nilgiri Tahr, Eravikulam National Park and Conservation. In: Daniel JC, Serrao JS (eds) Conservation in developing countries: problems and prospects. Proceedings of the centenary seminar of the Bombay Natural History Society. Oxford University Press, New DelhiGoogle Scholar
  49. Ropiquet A, Hassanin A (2005) Molecular evidence for the polyphyly of the genus Hemitragus (Mammalia, Bovidae). Mol Phylogenet Evol 36(1):1540168CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Russell C (1900) Bullet and shot in Indian forest, plain and hill. W. Thacker and Co, LondonGoogle Scholar
  51. Ryman N, Laikre L (1991) Effects of supportive breeding on the genetically effective population size. Conserv Biol 5(3):325–329CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Schaller GB (1970) Observations on Nilgiri Tahr (Hemitragus hylocrius Ogilby, 1838). J Bombay Nat Hist Soc 67(3):365–389Google Scholar
  53. Sharon V (2010) Rapid assessment on the population status of isolated populations of nilgiri tahr in Kerala. M.Sc dissertation submitted to Department of Ecology and Environmental Science, Pondicherry UniversityGoogle Scholar
  54. Sterndale R (1884) Natural history of the mammalia of India and Ceylon. Thacker. Spink and Co, CalcuttaGoogle Scholar
  55. Stockley C (1928) Big game shooting in the Indian Empire. Constable and Co, LondonGoogle Scholar
  56. Sukumar R, Suresh HS, Ramesh R (1995) Climate change and its impact on tropical montane ecosystems in Southern India. J Biogeogr 22:533–536CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Velupillai TK (1940) Forests. In: Travancore State manual, Chapter XVI: 272–273Google Scholar
  58. Willet J (1968) The Nilgiri tahr, Hemitragus hylocrius Ogilby. J Bombay Nat Hist Soc 65(3):769–771Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • P. S. Easa
    • 1
  • Mohan Alembath
    • 2
  1. 1.Care Earth TrustChennaiIndia
  2. 2.Asia Biodiversity Conservation TrustCochinIndia

Personalised recommendations