A total of 700 people will be involved in the estimation of the Nilgiri tahr for three days from April 29, 2024. File
| Photo Credit: The Hindu

Five months after the launch of the Project Nilgiri Tahr, Tamil Nadu is all set to estimate the population of its State animal.

Forest Departments of Tamil Nadu and Kerala will jointly count the population of the mountain ungulate in a three-day synchronised census starting from April 29.

Supriya Sahu, Additional Chief Secretary, Environment, Climate Change and Forest, told The Hindu bounded count and double observer methods would be used to estimate the population of the species. The survey would be carried out by 700 people.

“This is a massive exercise of its kind doing for the first time in the country for the Nilgiri tahr. I think it is going to give some fascinating information about certain aspects of the project, which will be very useful for us. Also, we feel that this is the first time we are doing the survey in a very organised and scientific fashion, at a large scale. So, we may get very good baseline data about the population estimation that we are doing”, said Ms. Sahu.

Principal Chief Conservator of Forests and Chief Wildlife Warden Srinivas R. Reddy said the Eravikulam and Silent Valley National Parks of Kerala, which are contiguous with the tahr habitats in Tamil Nadu, would be covered.

“The Kerala teams are also following the same counting methods. Though there are other tahr habitats in Kerala, we are focusing on the ones adjoining tahr habitats in Tamil Nadu. We have requested them to cover patches, which are continuous habitats with a large number of tahrs that tend to move both sides,” he said.

Nilgiri tahrs prefer montane grasslands, with steep and rocky terrains at an altitude between 300 and 2,600 metres above sea level. A little over 3,100 Nilgiri tahrs were believed to be living in highly fragmented habitats in the Western Ghats in Tamil Nadu and Kerala, ranging between the Nilgiris in the north and the Kanniyakumari hills in the south, as per a 2015 study by WWF-India.

WWF-India, the Wildlife Institute of India and the Nature Conservation Foundation are involved in formulating scientific and accurate technique of population enumeration.

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