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Field tales: surveying the endangered Nilgiri tahr

by Devika Rathore

 

Last month, we had a cross-programme survey—the High Altitude and Valparai teams got together to survey Anamalai Tiger Reserve for the endangered Nilgiri tahr!

What a treat it is to watch these tahrs leap over grass-covered hills—they are found in the Western Ghats and nowhere else in the world!

 

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We woke up to the sweet whistles of Malabar whistling thrushes, walked through shola grasslands with flocks of hornbills flying over our heads, and were also greeted by a pack of wild dogs when we set out early one morning for our surveys.

And on one sunlit evening, we were lucky to meet a beautiful tusker while driving to the basecamp—we watched him come out of the forest and yank a roadside signboard out (he clearly didn’t like being bossed around by signboard instructions 😉).

 

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Later on, we were told that this particular individual was in musth and that every year, they spot him exactly at this time and on this exact trail! I found it so fascinating to hear about how punctual elephants can be!

 

When out surveying a particular species, we also end up seeing and learning about many of the other animals they share their homes with—and this was a fascinating experience for me and the whole team.

 

Devika is a researcher with our High Altitude programme—she studies snow leopard ecology.
Photographs: Devika Rathore

 

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