Kerala

Survey puts Nilgiri tahr population at 1,420

First ever population estimation conducted by State Wildlife Department

The first ever Statewide population estimation of Nilgiri tahrs conducted by the Kerala Forests and Wildlife Department, using the bounded count method, has put the total population of the endangered species at 1,420, which include 664 at the Eravikulam National Park in Munnar.

The survey covered the landscapes of Periyar, Thiruvananthapuram, Munnar, Parambikkulam, and Silent Valley.

A comparison of the present count with earlier ones shows that there is not much variation in the State’s tahr population. However, there were a number of locations where there was no sighting of the animal this time.

A Statewide survey conducted in 2006 had reported sighting of 998 individuals in 11 populations, with the largest of 696 in the Eravikulam National Park. It also reported an estimated population of 1,244 animals in different locations from direct observations and the department estimation figures in 2015.

In the latest survey, the Thiruvananthapuram landscape with territorial and wildlife divisions and very good tahr habitats has reported only 173 animals. Of these, Varayattumudi shared 93 individuals and Sarkkarmotta and Varayadumotta have about 80 individuals.

Endangered

Experts say the Nilgiri tahr being confined to a narrow belt of higher elevation areas in a restricted geographical region and with specialised habitat requirement is all more threatened.

“A major part of the historical range of the tahr has been lost to plantations, including tea. Parts of the remaining grasslands have been planted with eucalyptus, wattle and pine. This is especially pervasive in the Nilgiris and Palani forests. Some plantations have also been established in the territorial forest divisions in Kerala posing threats to the adjoining tahr habitat,” the report said.

The population estimation was carried out by a technical committee chaired by P.S. Easa, member of the National Board for Wildlife. P.O. Nameer of the College of Forestry of Kerala Agricultural University was the co-chairman. Sivaram, wildlife expert; James Zacharias, former Deputy Conservator of Forests; Arun Zachariah, former AFVO; M. Balasubramanian, Lead Wildlife Monitoring Expert; and N. Radhakrishnan, Deputy Director of Wildlife Education; were the committee members who provided technical input, according to G. Prasad, Wildlife Warden at Munnar.

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Printable version | Feb 18, 2020 11:57:46 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/survey-puts-nilgiri-tahr-population-at-1420/article18723761.ece

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