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Description of Nilgiri tahr – Nilgiritragus hylocrius – Nilgiri ibex

Nilgiri tahr (Nilgiritragus hylocrius) complete detail. Description of Nilgiri tahr – Nilgiritragus hylocrius – Nilgiri ibex. Classification of Nilgiri tahr. Habit and habitat of Nilgiri tahr. They prefer grass-woodlands, open montane grasslands, and mountain slopes.
Head to body length measures about 80 to 140 cm. The length of tail about 9 to 14 cm. They are about 80 to 107 cm high at the shoulder. Color of body is dark grey to black or dark brown. Color of females is lighter than males. There are facial markings, particularly distinct in mature males, consisting of a dark brown muzzle separated from a dark cheek by a white stripe running down from the base of horns. The underparts are light gray with paler appearance or dirty white……..
Breeding season is between between June to August. During courtship, males will wet themselves in their own urine and even decorate their horns with mud and grasses. Females usually give birth to a single young. Gestation period is between 6 to 7 months.

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Distinctive Identification

Nilgiri tahr (Nilgiri ibex) is Schedule – I animal, according to wildlife (Protection) act, 1972 and classified as Endangered (EN) by the IUCN.

Head to body length measures about 80 to 140 cm. The length of tail about 9 to 14 cm. They are about 80 to 107 cm high at the shoulder. The weight of adult Nilgiri tahr is between 50 to 100 kg.

Color of body is dark grey to black or dark brown. Color of females is lighter than males. There are facial markings, particularly distinct in mature males, consisting of a dark brown muzzle separated from a dark cheek by a white stripe running down from the base of horns.

The underparts are light gray with paler appearance or dirty white. The tail is short with black or dark brown dense hairs.

Both male and female have curved horns, reaching up to 40 cm for males and 30 cm for females. Arising very close to each other at the top of the skull.

Legs are strong and dark grayish brown in color, the inner parts of legs are paler or dirty white in color. They have white knee-spots marking on the anterior surface of the front legs.

The face of female is the same color as the body and has no distinctive markings. In mature males, the face is nearly black and strikingly marked.

Eyes of Nilgiri thar is brownish black in color, a fawn-colored ring encircles the eye, with a similarly-colored patch behind each eye.

Females have two nipples. Females and immature males are an overall yellowish-brown to grey, with the underparts being paler.

Males are larger than females and of darker color when mature.

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Classification

Common Name – Nilgiri tahr / Nilgiri ibex

Local Name – Varaiaadu

Zoological Name – Nilgiritragus hylocrius

Kingdom – Animalia

Phylum – Chordata

Class – Mammalia

Order – Cetartiodactyla

Family – Bovidae

Subfamily – Caprinae

Genus – Nilgiritragus

Conservational Status – Schedule – I, according to wildlife (Protection) act, 1972 and classified as Endangered (EN) by the IUCN.

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Distribution

Nilgiri thar (Nilgiri ibex) is found in Western Ghats, Kerala and Tamil Nadu in southern India. The largest population of Nilgiri thar is found within the Eravikulam National Park.

Habit and habitat

They prefer grass-woodlands, open montane grasslands, and mountain slopes. At elevations from 1,200 to 2,600 meters. These grassland habitats are surrounded by dense forests at the lower elevations.

They also found at high elevations on cliffs, grass-covered hills, and open terrain areas. They are active from dawn to late evening, grazing most frequently in the early morning and late afternoon.

Nilgiri thar (Nilgiri ibex) is a herbivores animal. They feed on various types of grasses, herbs, shrubs, and leaves. Nilgiri thar is a social animal. They found in small groups or some time large groups.

Males are found lower down in the best grazing fields, whilst female herds are found on the exposed cliff ledges.

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Breeding season is between June to August. The age of sexual maturity is between 24 to 36 months.

When mature males join female herds during the breeding season, a dominance hierarchy evolves based on size and age of the animal involved. When two or more males are competing for the attentions of the same female, fights can break out and whilst a sharp head butt may be enough to settle these, well-matched competitors can tussle for hours.

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During courtship, males will wet themselves in their own urine and even decorate their horns with mud and grasses.

Females usually give birth to a single young. Gestation period is between 6 to 7 months. For the first few weeks of life the infant lies hidden while the mother forages, but by two months of age the kid follows its mother.

About Vijay Choudhary

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