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!





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 😉).



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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