Nilgiri tahr | WWF India
© Dhaval Momaya

Nilgiri tahr

Key Facts

  • Common Name

    Nilgiri tahr

  • Scientific Name

    Nilgiritragus hylocrius

  • Population

    Around 2500

  • Height:

    Around 100 cms

  • Weight:

    80-100 kg

  • Status:

    Listed in Schedule I of Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 and as Endangered on IUCN Red List

© Peter Paul Predit/WWF-India


Nilgiri tahrs are stocky goats with short, coarse fur and a bristly mane. Males are larger than the females, and have a darker colour when mature. Both sexes have curved horns, which are larger in the males, reaching up to 40 cm for males and 30 cm for females. Adult males weigh 80-100 kg and stand about 100cm tall at the shoulder. Adult males develop a light grey area or “saddle” on their backs and are hence called “saddlebacks”.

Conservation Issues

The Nilgiri tahr symbolizes the conflicts inherent in conservation of threatened fauna and their habitat. Their number totals around 2200-2500 individuals in the wild. Nilgiri tahrs exist only in small, isolated populations due to extreme habitat fragmentation and illegal hunting. They are, as a result, vulnerable to local extinction. The reasons for the decline of tahr populations have not been fully understood. Despite several studies over the years, there are only rough estimations of Nilgiri tahr populations. The species has always been under severe stress on account of the construction of numerous hydroelectric projects, timber felling and monoculture plantation of eucalyptus and wattles. All these development activities, especially the plantation activities affect the heart of the tahr habitat, which are the grasslands – sholas.

WWF-India’s Initiatives

WWF-India has conducted a comprehensive study in Tamil Nadu and Kerala to understand the present population and ecological requirements of Nilgiri tahr. It Raised awareness among locals and NGOs to initiate steps towards conservation.

Habitat and Distribution

The Nilgiri tahr inhabits the open montane grassland habitats at elevations from 1200 to 2600 m (generally above 2000 m) of the South Western Ghats. Their range extends over 400 km from north to south, and Eravikulam National Park is home to the largest population. The other significant concentration is in the Nilgiri Hills, with smaller populations in the Anamalai Hills, Periyar National Park, Palni Hills and other pockets in the Western Ghats south of Eravikulam, almost to India’s southern tip.