Hemitragus jemlahicus 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Mammalia Cetartiodactyla Bovidae

Scientific Name: Hemitragus jemlahicus
Species Authority: (C.H. Smith, 1826)
Common Name(s):
English Himalayan Tahr
Taxonomic Notes: No subspecies are currently recognized.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Near Threatened ver 3.1
Year Published: 2008
Date Assessed: 2008-06-30
Assessor(s): Bhatnagar, Y.V. & Lovari, S.
Reviewer(s): Harris, R. & Festa-Bianchet, M. (Caprinae Red List Authority)
Contributor(s): Jackson, R.
Listed as Near Threatened because this species is believed to be in significant decline (but probably at a rate of less than 30% over three generations, taken at 21 years) due to hunting for food and habitat loss, making the species close to qualifying for Vulnerable under criterion A2cd.
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:This species is found in the Himalayas including China (southern Tibet), north India (Jammu and Kashmir to Sikkim), and Nepal. It is introduced in New Zealand and Western Cape Province (South Africa) (Grubb, 2005).

In China, tahr appear to be found in only in a few spots along the southern Tibet border near Qubuo river, extending south into the Himalayas and can be expected in extreme western Tibet adjacent to known populations in India (Wang 1998, Smith and Xie 2008). In India, the Himalayan tahr occurs in timberline regions across the southern forested slopes of the Himalaya from Jammu and Kashmir to Sikkim (Sathyakmuar 2002). It is patchily distributed from south-central Kashmir, eastward through the southern part of Kulu District (Himachal Pradesh) between 2,000 and 3,270 m (Gaston et al., 1981, 1983), and more widely present at similar elevations through northern Uttarakhand to the Nepalese border. Small numbers are also found in east and west Sikkim near the borders with Nepal and Bhutan. Formerly the Himalayan tahr had a continuous distribution throughout Nepal between 1,500 and 5,200 m, but this is now being increasingly disrupted by activities related to human encroachment (Green, 1978, 1979). Tahr inhabits temperate to sub-alpine forests up to treeline, between 2500 and 5,200 m. Schaller (1977) mapped fourteen locations of tahr, and there are undoubtedly more. There are no recent, credible reports of tahr from Bhutan (T. Wangchuk pers. comm., 2008), though it possibly occurs in the extreme west of the country.
Countries occurrence:
China; India; Nepal
New Zealand; South Africa
Additional data:
Lower elevation limit (metres):1500
Upper elevation limit (metres):5200
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:There is no global population estimate, nor knowledge of rates of change.

For China, there are no estimates of numbers, but the population is thought to be small, and only a few have been observed in the field (Feng et al., 1986). Wang (1998) thought that perhaps 400-500 occurred within China. No total population estimate is available for India, although recent counts include about 130 individuals in the Kanawar Wildlife Sanctuary and greater than 100 in the Great Himalayan National Park, both in Himachal Pradesh (Gaston et al., in press; S. Pandey pers. comm.). Density estimates include 2.3/km² in the Daranghati Sanctuary (Himachal Pradesh) (S. Pandey pers. comm.), and 17/km² in part of Kedernath Wildlife Sanctuary (Uttar Pradesh) (S. Sathyakumar pers. comm.). It is probably declining in India (Y. V. Bhatnagar pers. comm. 2008). There is evidence to suggest that considerable local extinctions have taken place. The species may be close to extirpation in the western limit of its distribution in Jammu and Kashmir. The entire population reported north of the Chenab River from Kisthwar to the Banihal pass is believed to be extinct. Very small populations survive in the Bani-Sarthal areas of the Kathua district and the Kisthwar NP in Kisthwar-Doda districts. There are no available estimates for the total Nepalese population of tahr. Green (1978) estimated their ecological density in Langtang National Park to be between 6.8 to 25.0 tahr/km², and Bauer (1988) estimated a combined minimum number of 1,000 tahr for Sagamartha, Makalu-Barun (and Conservation Area) and Langtang National Parks.
Current Population Trend:Decreasing
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:The Himalayan tahr inhabits steep rocky mountain sides, especially between 3,000-4,000 m asl, with woods and rhododendron scrub (Smith and Xie 2008). The species eats grass, other herbs and some fruits. The Himalayan tahr is diurnal, and lives in small groups of 2-20 individuals, excluding older solitary males. Mating occurs from October to January. One or occasionally two kids are born in June and July after a gestation of 180-242 days depending on delayed implantation. The age at sexual maturity is 1.5 years, with captive animal lived up to 22 years (Smith and Xie 2008).

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): The major threats in China are uncontrolled hunting and deforestation. In India, Himalayan tahr is sometimes hunted for meat, and there is apparently significant competition with livestock for summer grazing in some areas. Nevertheless, many areas of prime tahr habitat are sufficiently isolated, rugged and seasonally snow-covered, that the degree of disturbance, livestock grazing and habitat alteration by humans is minimized. In Nepal, threats come from an expanding human population and accompanying increases in livestock, habitat loss, poaching and access. As a result of these factors, tahr populations are becoming increasingly isolated. Avalanches during winters with high snowfall also can be a significant mortality factor for tahr.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Listed as Category I species in China. It is not listed on CITES.

Within China, it occurs in Qomolangma Nature Reserve on the Sino-Nepal border. Conservation measures proposed for China include undertaking a survey and census to determine the species’ distribution and status.

In India, protected areas with Himalayan tahr (Gaston et al., 1981, 1983; Green, 1987b; Kathayat and Mathur 2002) include: Jammu and Kashmir – Kishtwar National Park (locally threatened); Himachal Pradesh - Great Himalayan National Park (confirmed), and Daranghati (locally threatened), Gamgul Siahbehi, Kanawar, Khokhan, Kugti, Manali (locally threatened or extinct), Rupi Bhaba, Sechu Tuan Nala, Tirthan and Tundah (locally threatened) Wildlife Sanctuaries; Uttarakhand -Nanda Devi and (probably) Valley of Flowers National Parks, Govind Pashu Vihar and Kedarnath Wildlife Sanctuaries; and Sikkim - Khangchendzonga National Park. Himalayan tahr occurs in a very narrow band along timberline areas in the Himalaya, and although still present over much of its historical range, the lack of population data precludes a satisfactory status designation within its relatively restricted range. It appears, however, that the species is capable of using rugged forested slopes with temperate oak and pine forests, well below the timberline area where it is now found. This suggests that it current range distribution may reflect displacement from formerly used lower elevation areas. As well, much of its current distribution lies outside the network of protected areas. Conservation measures proposed for India: 1) Extend the Great Himalayan National Park as proposed. 2) Establish the proposed Srikhand National Park (Himachal Pradesh) 3) Devise innovative community based reserves for the species outside Pas (these need to include community based protection, tourism, awareness, etc).

Probably a significant proportion of Nepal’s tahr populations occur within protected areas, but it is also believed to be widespread in smaller, scattered populations outside reserves. The species is known to occur in Langtang, Lake Rara, Sagamartha, Makalu-Barun (and Conservation Area) and Shey-Phoksundo National Parks, in the Annapurna Conservation Area, and in Dhorpatan Hunting Reserve. It may also occur in Khaptad National Park in the Midlands (Bauer, 1988). Conservation measures proposed for Nepal: As with blue sheep, 1) maintain the current, closely controlled, legal hunting program, and 2) consider a regulated program of low-level subsistence hunting by local villagers. 3) It will also be necessary to study the impact of the increasing fragmentation of tahr populations. The first steps to address this issue would be to begin in selected areas by mapping tahr habitat features such as cliffs (using 1:50,000 topographic maps), followed by ground surveys to validate the species’ presence/absence.

Citation: Bhatnagar, Y.V. & Lovari, S. 2008. Hemitragus jemlahicus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2008: e.T9919A13027389. . Downloaded on 17 January 2017.
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