Nilgiri tahr day to honour pioneer environmentalist

G Shaheed

ERC Davidar

Nilgiri tahr (mountain goat) day will be celebrated by Tamil Nadu on October 7 to honour a pioneer environmentalist ERC Davidar who was closely connected with Kerala though his activities were based in Ooty. His birth anniversary which falls on October 7 will be celebrated annually as Tahr day to remember the pioneering work he had initiated and fulfilled to protect Nilgiri tahr which is now endangered. Tahr is endemic to western ghats.

A viable population of this animal exists in the Eravikulam national park of Munnar. Meanwhile, other parts of western ghats have tahr but are fragmented.

The first studies of tahr were initiated by Davidar in the early seventies when he was secretary of Nilgiri Wildlife society. Though he was a lawyer he had a keen interest in wildlife preservation. He was responsible to create a high degree of awareness for tahr protection.

His studies attracted George Schaller a renowned US wildlife biologist. He stayed in Munnar and Eravikulam in 1970 for studying about tahr.

Davidar had stayed in Eravikulam during that period. He was closely connected with many forest officials including K K Nair, a renowned chief forest conservator. Apart from Davidar Clifford Rice from the USA had done his PhD on tahr studies in Eravikulam. Dr P V Karunakaran also obtained his PhD for studies on the grasslands there. Davidar passed away in 2010.

The govt of Tamil Nadu has now launched an action plan for tahr conservation. Funds have been earmarked for the same.

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