Conservation Measures

Nilgiri Tahr Saddleback

Eravikulam National Park supports nearly 1,000 individuals (Fox and Johnsingh, 1997; Kannery, 2002).  This has to be qualified as Eravikulam National Park and its immediate sorrounding areas, which would be much more appropriate. The estimate of 1000 Tahrs for Eravikulam alone given by the forest department has always been mired in controversy with alleged double counts happening due to poor visibility compunded by mist. The previous estimation  was 700+ and subsequent estimation was also 700+. Abraham et al (2006) estimated the total population of the Tahr in the state of Kerala as 998 of which 696 are in Eravikulam and the rest spread over the remaining part of the State. Earlier, Mishra and Johsingh (1998) had suggested that the population of the Tahr in Anaimalai Hills and Parambikulam WLS could be in the range 570-690. When the population within the Eravikulam NP is taken into consideration, this conservation unit could be the home for around 1400 Tahr (Abraham et al, 2006)

The general trends of decline even in the best managed Tahr habitats indicate that the total population of the species does not exceed 2000 at present and a conservative estimate would place the numbers within 1800-2000 (Daniels et al., 2006).


Minimum Population Size: 1800                Maximum Population Size: 2000


The recent report by Daniels et al (2006) suggested ways to strengthen the ongoing conservation initiatives. The suggestions include control of poaching, extending strict protection measures, dedicating more areas for the conservation of the Tahr in Tamilnadu, by declaring the Palani Hills & High Wavy Mountains landscapes (Tamilnadu) a Nilgiri Tahr sanctuary. Considering the fragmentation of habitat leading to isolated populations, a landscape approach is required for the future programmes. The report has further recommended assessment of quality of habitats for their long term suitability and sustainability. Scientific means of improving the available forage (as against the total grass/shrub biomass) has to be seriously explored and adopted. Tamilnadu Forest Department is removing the exotic monocultures along the periphery of the Mukurti National Park. This is a commendable initiative and is worthy of replication in other Tahr ares overrun by exotics. Inter-state cooperation in standardizing and synchronizing the annual Tahr population estimation is must to arrive at statistcally valid population estimates. Community participation for conservation has to be encouraged. Without support of the local communities, conservation initiatives will not take off in a thickly populated country like India. The addition of adjoining areas of Munnar Forest Division and Marayur Forest Division to Eravikulam National Park is very crucial for maintaining the existing population of the Park.(Rice,C.G,1984). This proposal was subsequently endorsed by the Kerala State Wildlife Advisory Board, but is still hanging fire.

Proposals mooted during the 4th World Coference on Mountain Ungulates

Delegates to the 4th World Congress on Mountain Ungulates,held in Munnar,Kerala,India

from 12th and 15th September 2006 adopted the following resolutions.

  1. Extend the Eravikulam National Park limits to the ecological boundary of the Nilgiri Tahr population.

  1. Establish pretected and functional corridors between the isolated tahr populations in the Western Ghats.

  1. Forestry, tourism and other activities in the tahr landscape should respect conservation measures to protect the tahr and its habitats.

  1. Develop a protocol for monitoring the tahr populations and habitats, and evaluate the ecological impact of tourism and fire in the National Park.

  1. Explore possibilities for the re-introduction of tahr into parts of its historical range, from where it has been extirpated.

 

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