Give wider berth to Nilgiri Tahr

Posted by: Suresh K L on

Being endemic to South-Western ghats, Niligiri Tahr occurs in a few protected parks of Tamil Nadu and Kerala and their number stands between 2000-3000 is known fact. When British invaded this part of India, Thar's numbered around 50,000-100,000. It is said that Palani Hills landscape of Tamil Nadu alone had 25000-30000 of these high altitude creatures. Although it'S difficult to bringback erstwhile glory, we can improve the number by looking beyond Kerala-Tamil Nadu boundary. According to historical accounts Niligiri Tahr occurred in southern Ghats of Karnataka also. Two places which can be considered for reintroduction in Karnataka are Biligiri Rangaswamy Temple wildlife sanctuary (BRT) and Kuduremukha national park (KNP) with Brahmagiri WLS in southern Kodagu. Let us check possibilities.
  • Both places are well protected. BRT being already a Tiger reserve and KNP is all set to get the tag, so better funding and protection are assured.
  • Both places have high altitude shola grassland ecosystem needed for Niligiri Tahr. Though BRT may lag behind in shola covered area in comparision to KNP which has extensive shola ecosystem, it compensates with steep shola hill tops and slopes required for Niligiri Tahr. On the otherhand KNP with lack of ungulate species in its grassland can be a good bet (Absence of Spotted deer in itself is a reminder of high altitude ecology). Even predators like Tiger and Dhole are less in numbers. Only 8 Tigers are reported from 563sq.Km park area. So the shola grasslands of KNP right now are a welcoming site for Nilgiri Tahr.
  • If KNP is successful, the same can be repeated in one more area i.e., Chandra Drona ranges which encircle Bhadra Tiger reserve (BWS) in a horse shoe pattern. Many of the Karnataka'S highest peaks occur in this range and its surroundings, so high altitude grassland system is assured. Right now these hill ranges are not best protected because of the lack of star species, increasing number of 1 day nature lovers and also due to religious skirmish in Baba Budangiri ranges (22.05 which escalates once every year. So introduction of Niligiri Tahr not only helps in providing better protection for eco system by limiting the influx of people but can also bring social harmony by clamping the religious blindfolded devotees who come in search of divinity in a small shrine while the divinity in the form of Mother Nature presents herself in all splendors all the way from Chikkamagalur Town.
  • Brahmagiri WLS in Kodagu is contiguous to the existing Thar population of Tamil Nadu and is well suited for immediate introduction.

Who will be the taker?

Best hope is Mr.Anil Kumble, great cricketer and Vice Chairman, State Board for Wildlife, who is taking initiatives in creating in new protected areas. I would like Sanctuary Asia to help bring to his notice about the possibility of introduction of Niligiri Thar in Karnataka.