Sighting of Nilgiri Tahr

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 🙂

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Exploring Top Slip

Another trip to Top Slip.. bang in the middle of the rainy season. Top Slip is a forest reserve on the Anamalai Mountain Ranges of Tamil Nadu in South India. Here is the link to my previous post on Top Slip.

 

This is the Tamil Nadu Tourism office at Top Slip. They offer animal sighting tours, cottage accommodations, a small hotel and an eco-friendly shoppe for tourists.

 

 

There are guided safari tours in to the Forest in a mini bus. Animal sightings are frequently reported on these tours. We too signed up for it… And off we went into the forest.

First view of the forest are the sky high Bamboo clusters:

 

 

Out first sighting was a herd of wild Asian Buffaloes… They were huge and massive compared to the buffalos I had seen on the plains.

 

 

There were black monkeys, but I could not take a clear picture of them. They hardly sit in a place letting people observe them. So it was very difficult to identify what type of monkeys they were.

We also saw large flying squirrels perched high up on the tall trees:

 

This is a tribal settlement in the middle of the forest. The only way to this settlement is through a narrow winding path through mountains and the thick forest. People in this photo are not tribals 🙂 They are crowds of tourists enjoying the light drizzle and cold climate.

 

A view of the mountains and forests, as the light drizzle became a heavy downpour:

 

 

It started raining very heavily on our way back. The green beautiful winding mountain paths now looked dangerous and slippery in the heavy rains. My interest in taking photos kind of lulled as I was totally occupied in praying for safety 🙂

 

I saw this elephant back at the tourism office. She was thoroughly enjoying herself, munching away happily without bothering about the rain. She sure taught me a lesson on how to enjoy a heavy downpour 🙂