Tahr

Occurring in rugged countryside on the slopes of the Himalayan mountain range, this tahr is most likely to be encountered in wooded areas.

Himalayan tahrs are closely related to goats. There are two other species: the Arabian tahr, which is only found in Oman, and the Niligri tahr, which lives around the Niligri Hills in India.

Both male and female Himalayan tahrs have luxuriant manes over their necks and shoulders, presumably as a defence against the cold mountain air. Tahrs are very wary, and at the least alarm they will scamper off over rocks and through forest, moving easily over the steep terrain. Wary animals, they always post a sentinel to watch for danger.

They are gregarious, living in herds of 30 to 40 on almost any vegetation they can reach, although old males can be seen on their own, probably after being driven out by younger rivals. During the mating season, males lock horns and wrestle one another in order to win the right to mate with females. The breeding season peaks in the winter, when the female gives birth to 1 or 2 young after a 6 to 8-month gestation.

Himalayan tahrs resemble goats, but unlike goats, males do not sport goatee beards and do not have twisted horns. The horns are long and there are glands on the feet. Tahrs are goatlike in their habits - they live on precipitous mountainsides, where they climb and leap with supreme ease.

Competition with domestic goats and hunting has begun to reduce all three species. Arabian and Niligri tahrs are now officially classified as endangered by the IUCN.

Distribution: Found naturally in Asia, in the vicinity of the Himalayan mountains, extending from Kashmir to Sikkim. It has now also been introduced to New Zealand.

Habitat: Forested hills and mountains.

Weight: 36 - 90 kg (79 - 189 lb).

Length: 99 - 152 cm (40 - 60 in), including tail.

Maturity: 2-3 years; mating occurs from October to January.

Gestation Period: About 217 days.

Breeding: A single youngster, occasionally 2; weaned by 6 months.

Food: Herbivorous, eating grasses, leaves and flowers.

Lifespan: Up to 10 years in the wild, but can be over 20 in captivity.

Status: Vulnerable.

Ears

In common with most animals living in cold environments, the ears are small to reduce the risk of frostbite.

Horns

Present in both sexes, the horns are triangular and curve inwards at their tips, growing to 45 cm (18 in).

Mane

The mane is a distinctive feature of males during the winter, when the coat is more profuse.

Legs

The legs are quite short and stocky.

DAILY ROUTINE

During the middle of the day Himalayan tahrs rest among rocks, preferring to seek food in the morning and evening.

Gallery of Tahr