Project Nilgiri Tahr

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    In News

    • The Tamil Nadu government recently launched an initiative for the conservation of the Nilgiri Tahr.

    Background

    • There are multiple references to the Nilgiri Tahr in Tamil Sangam literature dating back to 2,000 years. 
    • The late Mesolithic (10,000-4,000 BC) paintings highlight the significance of the Tahr in folklore, culture and life. 
    • It was designated as the State animal of Tamil Nadu in recognition of its ecological and cultural significance. 

    About the project

    • Features:
      • To develop a better understanding of the Nilgiri Tahr population through surveys and radio telemetry studies.
      • Reintroduce the Tahrs to their historical habitat.
      • Address proximate threats.
      • Increase public awareness of the species.
    • Cost:
      • The project will cost Rs.25.14 crore.
    • Implementation:
      • The project is to be implemented from 2022 to 2027.
    • Niligiri Tahr Day:
      • October 7 will be celebrated as ‘Niligiri Tahr Day’ in honour of E.R.C. Davidar.
        • He was responsible for pioneering one of the first studies on Nilgiri Tahr in 1975.

    Challenges in the conservation of the Nilgiri Tahrs

    • Potential local extinction due to highly fragmented populations.
    • Invasion of exotic species into the habitat.
    • Forest fires.
    • Over-exploitation of forest resources.
    • Lack of ecological data and understanding. 

    Nilgiri Tahr

    • Local Name
      • The species is locally known as Varaiaadu.
    • IUCN Status
      • It has been listed as an endangered species and is protected under Schedule-I of the Wildlife (Protection) Act of India, 1972.
    • Habitat and Distribution:
      • The animal inhabits meadows with steep cliffs at elevations between 300 metres and 2,600 metres above sea level
      • Historically, the Nilgiri Tahr was known to inhabit a large portion of the Western Ghats
        • But today it remains restricted to a few scattered patches in Tamil Nadu and Kerala.  
        • It has become locally extinct in around 14% of its traditional shola forest-grassland habitat.
    • Estimates:
      • It is estimated that there are 3,122 Nilgiri Tahrs in the wild.

    Source: TH