Nilgiri tahr numbers rise at ENP

145 new calves this season, total Nilgiri tahr population touches 782

The annual census of Nilgiri tahr held at Eravikulam National Park (ENP) has shown an increase of 145 new calves this season. This was a mild decline in new births compared to the 155 last year. The total number of Nilgiri tahrs in its natural habitat has increased from 723 to 782 this year.

Job J. Neriyamparambil, range officer, ENP, said that this year the census was held by a team of officials of the Forest Department from April 20 to 23.

The survey team was led by P.S. Easa, former director, KFRI (Kerala Forest Research Institute).

Last year also, the survey was limited to the officials of the Forest Department due to the COVID-19 situation, sources said.

After the calving season, the ENP was opened for visitors this year to close again in the wake of the second wave of COVID-19.

The number of new calves in 2018 was 75 and in 2017 it was 87.

The area of survey included Shola National Park and Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary. The areas outside the ENP were included as the Nilgiri tahrs were found in a wide area.

In this year’s census, ENP recorded 93 new births and at Shola National Park 19. No new births were recorded in Kadavari and in the proposed Kurinjimala Sanctuary.

Below 1,000

The total tahr population has remained below 1,000 for over a decade.

Though the authorities had succeeded in completely stopping the poaching, a large number of tahrs fell prey to carnivorous animals like wild dogs and leopards.

The survey team recommended conducting the annual survey during the first week of April as the air would be more clear paving the way for easy sightings and more accurate data on tahr population.

The change in the weather pattern has resulted in sighting the new calves a little earlier than the normal period of the calving season.

Controlled burning

The survey team also recommended for controlled burning of the grasslands in Kadavari of Kurinjimala sanctuary and Kasimala of Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary for providing enough grazing land and ensuring the healthy growth of tahr population..

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