The Himalayan Tahr, also known as kaarth, meshi, and taheer, is a species of grazing ungulates that are found in parts of the Himalayan mountain range. This large mammal is a relative of the wild goat and is specially adapted to life on the rugged mountain slopes of the Himalayas. Being vulnerable to hunting and habitat loss, this beautiful creature is undergoing a population decline and has already been declared as near threatened.
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Himalayan Tahr Scientific Classification
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Table of Contents
Size: The length of these tahrs can be anything between 90 and 140 cm.
Weight: The weight of the male is 90 to 100 kg, while the females are much less, being around 60.
Fur/hair/coat: They are double coated with dense, reddish to dark brown woolly coat, and a thick undercoat.
Head: A proportionally small head, with large eyes, and small pointed ears.
Horns: Both the sexes bear horns that can reach a maximum size of 46 cm. Horns in the female are smaller than the male.
Feet: The sturdy, hooved feet and flexible enough to help them walk through the terrains.
Tail: The tail is small, measuring about 9 to 12 cm in length.
Sexual Dimorphism: The males are easily noticeable with their heavy ruff and mane that lack in the females.
The normal lifespan of the animal is 10 to 14 years (and up to 21-22 years in captivity), with the females tending to live longer.
They are mostly found in the mountain country and montane woodlands. In the winter, they come down to lower altitudes to avoid the deep snow, where they can get enough food, while, during summer, they tend to stay at higher elevations.
Habitat: Where do Himalayan Tahrs Live
Himalayan Tahr is native to the Himalayas in northern India, southern Tibet, northern Pakistan, and Nepal.
Classification of Species
No subspecies of the Himalayan Tahr has yet been described.
Himalayan Tahrs often live in groups of up to 80 members. However, these groups are all same-sex groups with all males or all females, except for the breeding season. Young Himalayan Tahrs that are less than two years are not allowed in the male groups. The groups of males are larger than those of the females. Apparently, there is no hierarchy or dominance present in the groups.
Himalayan Tahrs are diurnal, and are most active 3 to 4 hours after dawn and before dusk, while the remaining day, they usually rest. Interestingly, in the morning, these creatures move upslope and spend time relaxing there during the midday hours. After sunset, they move downslope and spend the entire night time there. This action of the HTs is called ‘daily vertical migration’.
Diet: What Do Himalayan Tahrs Eat
As a ruminant herbivore, the Himalayan Tahr would consume grasses, herbs, and the leaves from shrubs and trees.
Reproduction & Life Cycle
The age of sexual maturity of the Himalayan Tahr is two years, while the breeding season falls between October and January, during when the males would engage in competition in order to get a partner and enjoy privileges. However, male tahrs that are less than the age of four years usually leave as the loser, failing to get a partner.
When pregnant, the mature females would leave their herds for giving birth to the young ones and would return after delivery. The gestation period of the female Himalayan Tahr is seven months, usually giving birth to a single kid, but at times twins.
The mother would immediately begin nursing the kids the moment they are born, while the baby would take around three to four hours to be able to stand on its legs and try to walk. The juveniles are weaned when they attain the age of six months, though they continue remaining with the mother for about two years more.
- The animal has the ability to stand up on the hind legs for reaching the higher branches.
- They are also capable of holding branches down with the forelegs, using them like hands, while eating.
- During winter, when food is scarce in the high altitudes, or the quality of food becomes low, making it tough for the tahr to digest them quickly, they can spend a long time at a stretch without eating anything at all, or consume just a nominal amount of them.
- The dense wooly coat helps them stay warm during wintertime, while during the warm summer or spring, the animal loses much of its wool and turns lighter in color, helping them reflect sunlight faster.
- The hooves of this big goat are well adapted, making them excellent climbers, get grips of smooth rocks, and lodge their feet into all kinds of footholds.
- The horns are curved backward and little inward, preventing serious injury to the head while battling with other Himalayan Tahrs during the mating season.
The primary natural predator of the Himalayan Tahr, if not only, is the Himalayan snow leopard.
The Himalayan Tahr has been listed by the IUCN 3.1 under the category ‘NT’ or “Near Threatened”.
- The Himalayan Tahr has been introduced to several countries like New Zealand, Argentina, South Africa and the United States.
- The word tahr comes from a Nepali word thār that was used for the first time in language English back in 1835.
- Its genus name Hemitragus was coined from the Greek words for ‘half’ and ‘goat’ – hēmi and trágos, respectively.