Natural Histories

photograph of a Sunda Pangolin

Himalayan Tahr

Hemitragus jemlachicus


The Himalayan tahr has relatively short legs and a small head. Males (73 kg) tend to be larger than females (36 kg). In the winter males have a dark face and muzzle while their sides and hindquarters appear black to red-brown with a reddish rump patch and light underbelly. Old males have darker coats with a light band along the flanks and a dark mid-dorsal line. The long (250 cm) mane around the neck and shoulders of this species is thick and extends down the front legs. The mane can be slate gray or straw-colored. During the winter females have grey- brown coats with dark muzzles and legs with a light underbelly. During summer months this species has a shorter, lighter colored coat. Young have brown coats with black front legs. Both male and female tahr have flattened horn which curve up, back, and then in with a triangular cross-section and a keel on the front edge. Male Himalayan tahr tend to have larger horns than females.


Himalayan tahr are native to the southern flanks of the Himalaya Mountains from northern India east to Bhutan, and north to Tibet. This species has also been introduced to New Zealand, New Mexico, California, Ontario, and South Africa for hunting. This species prefers rugged wooded hills and mountain slopes in the subalpine and alpine habitats. The New Zealand population prefers grassy mountain sloped with large rock bluff systems, snow tussock basins and subalpine scrubland habitat between 750-2250 m above sea level.

Feeding Behavior and Diet

This species is herbivorous, consuming only plant matter. During the winter Himalayan tahr consumes less food because of poor food quality and high metabolic costs. During other parts of the year this species feeds on alpine herbs and subalpine scrubland plants.


Breeding season, aka rut, occurs from mid-October to mid-January. The rut of the New Zealand populations runs from April until July, peaking in May or early June. Males follow groups of females during rut, the older males defending access to females. Male Himalayan tahr display an erect mane to attract a female and to warn off another male. When a female is present a male will keep his mane and dorsal ridge erect, head up and nod his head. 1-2 kids (young) are born to each female from mid-April to mid-July. Females and males become sexually mature after 2 years old but males do not generally reproduce until they are 4 years old.

Months and Times of Activity

This species is most active in the early morning and late afternoon and spends at least half of the daylight resting. Vertical migrations occur daily moving upslope in the morning and down slope for the night. They can be found at 3500-4500 meters above sea level but seasonally can be found as low as 2500 meters or alpine meadows at 5000 meters above sea level.

Special Features, Stories, Relationships

•    Himalayan tahr live in herds of 2-23 individuals, males living in separate herds outside of breeding season.
•    The hooves of this species are well adapted to mountainous terrain, with hard rim of keratin surrounding a soft convex pad to aid in climbing.
•    Children’s book featuring this animal: Where Snow Leopard Prowls Wild Animals of Tibet by Naomi C. Rose


Kennedy, S. 2002. "Hemitragus jemlahicus" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed November 04, 2014 at