The Himalayan Tahr (Hemitragus jemlahicus) is a large ungulate and a close relative to the wild goat. Its native habitat is in the rugged wooded hills and mountain slopes of the Himalaya from northern India to Tibet. They spend the summers grazing in high pastures, then come down the mountains and form mixed-sex herds in the winter.
The Himalayan Tahr is one of three species of tahr. The others are the Arabian Tahr of Oman and the Nilgiri Tahr of southern India. Recent molecular genetic studies have suggested that the tahrs are not as closely related as had previously been thought. Now they are considered as three separate genera: Hemitragus (Himalayn Tahr), Nilgiritragus (Nilgiri Tahr) and Arabitragus (Arabian Tahr).
They have small heads with large eyes and small pointed ears. Their hooves have a flexible, rubbery core that allows them to grip smooth rocks, while a hard, sharp rim can lodge into small footholds. Males are larger and have different colouration and horn structure than the females. Adult Himalayan Tahrs range from 135 to 180 kg (300 to 400 lb) in weight, 120 to 170 cm in length, and 60 to 90 cm in height. They are herbivores, subsisting on grass, shrubs, and trees. The gestation period is seven months, and usually only one kid is born at a time. The young tahr nurses for about six months, and may follow its mother for up to two years. In the wild, tahrs can live up to 15 years, though ten years is more typical.
Feral Himalayan Tahr are an introduced species in the South Island of New Zealand, with herds forming in the Southern Alps. In large numbers tahr are regarded as a pest because their browsing can become unsustainable. They are however recognised as a valued resource to New Zealand through the economic benefits of hunting on the West Coast. The rarity of this mammal in its native range makes conservation efforts in New Zealand crucial to its survival.
The Himalayan Tahr is considered vulnerable by the World Conservation Union (IUCN) in its home range of the Himalaya. In introduced areas, such as New Zealand, New Mexico, California, South Africa, and Ontario, their only predators are humans who hunt them for meat, sport, and trophies. There are more sites on the Internet advertising organized Himalayan Tahr hunting trips than there are sites about the Himalayan Tahr itself, proving the popularity of this animal as a trophy.