The Nilgiri Tahr(Nilgiritragus hylocrius), an endangered ungulate endemic to the Western Ghats, is under greater risk than before due to habitat loss caused by global warming. The hoofed mammal, belonging to the wild goat family, has seen its population decreased steadily since the 1950s, and currently, some 3000 odd Nilgiri tahrs remain in isolated groups in pockets of Tamil Nadu and Kerala. A study conducted by Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment or ATREE( authored by R.K. Sony and Sandeep Sen and co-authored by Sunil Kumar, Monalisa Sen and K.M. Jayahari ) concluded that most of the existing habitat region of the hoofed mammal will become unsuitable with the continued intensifying of global warming, with the 21,448 sq.km. current habitat decreasing to possibly 8500 sq.km. The Kalakkad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve, Peppara, Neyyar, Shendurney and Srivilliputhur wildlife sanctuaries, especially, are predicted to become unsuitable for tahr, while protected areas such as Peechi-Vazhani and Chinnar wildlife sanctuaries and Parambikulam Tiger Reserve and Silent Valley National Park are vulnerable in the future if the extreme climate change continues unabated. Dr AJT Johnsingh, the eminent wildlife biologist, warns that“although tahr have the capability to live in the lower altitudes of Western Ghats,” the increased temperature in the region caused by climate change “can have a disastrous effect on their habitats, particularly resulting in the drying up of the springs in summer, which could be detrimental to the overall tahr population.” The researchers, while calling for a greater monitoring of the habitat and population of the Nilgiri tahr, also recommends a study to increase connectivity and habitat quality of the affected areas.
– As reported by Mongabay
Cover Photo: The population of the Nilgiri tahr has been shrinking since the 1950s and currently, about 3000 remain in isolated groups in Tamil Nadu and Kerala. Photo by Kannambally M. Jayahari.