Animals from all over write to Aristotle to tell him of their joys and sorrows.The Nilgiri tahr writes or rather brags about himself.

Hi guys!

Have you ever looked for a needle in a haystack? If you have, then you would understand what it is to look for a Malabar civet in the Western Ghats. Even our sixth sense wouldn’t help. Let me tell you why.

The Western Ghats run for 1,600 km from Gujarat to Kanyakumari along the west coast of India. Is it possible to find this nocturnal guy in the dense evergreen and deciduous forests that cover its rain-drenched slopes?

Do you know what I think? If he is there, he is there; if not, he is extinct! Can’t argue with that, can you?

Moving on, I have some amazing things to write about! I start with me, for I think I am one of the most fascinating creations of Nature, even though I am like a common goat. No kidding. Get the joke — kid as in a baby goat… kidding! A good one, if I may say so myself!

I am a hemitragus meaning not a true goat as we do not have a beard. Our family is Bovidae that includes all ungulates, i.e., all even-toed hoofed animals. Goat, sheep, cattle, antelope, buffalo and gaur are one big family.

By the way, I am not kidding you (he he he) but I am closely related to sheep as well as to goats! Is that possible? Yes, if one is a Nilgiri tahr, which is what I am.

Good looks

As a male of this species, I am strikingly good looking. On my shaggy, short, chocolaty brown fur, there are silvery, white and tawny markings that will stop you in your tracks.

On my back I have a saddle like marking; there are tawny circles around my eyes, white patches behind them and a line running down my face from the eyes to the corners of my mouth. My two curved horns of about 16 inches in length are my pride. Thus, I stand

taller than my three-feet height. They make me hugely attractive to the grey, plain-Janes of my herd!

The Sahyadri Hills or the Western Ghats are made of many ranges each having its own name. We live in the southern most hills of the Nilgiris which has Anamudi (the tallest peak at 2,695 m) in peninsular India.

Our tahr population is found in pockets in these hills at an elevation of 1,200 m and above in grasslands and rocky cliffs. A large number is found at Eravikulum National Park in Kerala. Tahrs and the flowers-that–bloom-once-in-12-years, neelakurinji, attract a huge number of eco-tourists.

We are an endangered species. People hunt us down for meat or take away our grazing land for their cattle and crops. We pay a price for our looks. If we looked like those bonnet macaques, our status too would be “Least Concern”!

Nilgiri tahr

Reply from Aristotle

(Yawn)… so vain, so boring! No kidding. No loss if this one goes. He he!