Special Correspondent

UDHAGAMANDALAM: The population of the Nilgiri Tahr at the Mukurthi National Park is healthy, according to a three-day census that concluded on Sunday.

Range Officer H. Devaraj said the census revealed that the Nilgiri Tahr (Hemitragus hylocrius), a highly endangered goat species restricted to the grasslands and active during the day, was reproducing at a healthy rate. Sixty young ones were sighted during the census, which the Forest Department conducted with the assistance of the Nilgiris Wildlife and Environment Association and the World Wide Fund for Nature. One hundred and sixty staff members and volunteers took part in the exercise, which covered the Mukurthi peak, where the maximum number of the animals was found, the western catchments, Bangithappal and the Nilgiri peak in the park, which sprawls over 80 square km, and which was created in April 1982 to protect the animals, which live among precipices.

Though the final figure is yet to be arrived at, the population is estimated at about 200.