After a long time, we went on drive up the hills of the western ghat mountains. Anaimalai wildlife sanctuary, near Pollachi, is the part of western ghats closest to home.
To our surprise, we found many Nilgiri Tahr right on the curvy mountain roads. We have previously seen a couple of goats along the hair pin bends close to Akkamalai… but this was the first time we saw them in many groups.
A few years back, when we spotted a Tahr, it was very shy and stepped down a deep mountain slope as soon as it spotted us. But with the increasing number of tourists, it looks like these shy goats have become used to humans and their cameras.
This one did not mind us as we approached closer trying to zoom in on its famous curved horns. It was busy munching away at peace.
An occasional drive through the Western Ghats towards Valparai is one of our preferred activities for holidays. It has stopped raining almost a month back… One more month remains before the next spell of rains. So the forest was dry and we were expecting to see wild boars and monkeys cross the mountain road in search of water.
In a short while, we saw goats on the roadside. We were happy and surprised when we recognised them as the Nilgiri Tahr (Nilgiritragus hylocrius). They are known as varaiyaadu (cliff goat) in tamil.
These are wild goats or mountainous goats, native to the southern western ghats. They are found only in Kerala and Tamil Nadu. They are known for their uncanny ability to climb steep rocky mountains. They are an endangered species now, with only around 2000 of them alive.
They were nothing like other wild animals… they were very calm and grazed away peacefully without minding us. We were watching them, enjoying the peace and calm that surrounded us.
But then another car passing by saw us with cameras standing next to these animals. Four excited men with cameras in hand got down from the car and walked towards us, talking excitedly in raised voices. That was enough to put the goats on alert. In a minute the three goats had climbed over the ledge and disappeared in to the deep forests.
Regardless of any kind of human intervention, there is one animal which continues to thrive. Not only does it thrive, but often proves itself to be more wile than man. Yes, it is the monkey…
As we were intently watching the landscape for the Tahr or Langurs, this monkey family spotted us. The mean look on their faces was enough to make us speed away from there 🙂