New Zealand Himalayan Tahr History

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Originally from the Himalayas in Nepal and India, there's evidence from cave paintings that tahr at one time were found in France. Today, besides their native Himalayan mountains, tahr are found in South Africa and New Zealand.

In 1904 the Duke of Bedford gave the New Zealand Government six tahr selected from his herd at Woburn. Apparently he'd meant to send 8 tahr, but 2 of them escaped before they could be shipped. These six remaining animals were shipped from the UK in April 1904, and reached New Zealand by the end of May. One of the bull tahr escaped and jumped overboard, and so only 5 tahr got off the boat in Wellington and were soon liberated in the Aoraki/Mt. Cook area. Five years later, the same Duke sent eight more tahr--they all made it this time--and these animals were also released in the same area.

With no natural predators, the tahr thrived in the Southern Alps, growing their population dramatically, but also damaging the native plants such as the Mt Cook lily.

  Himalayan tahr, Kimihia Safaris, South Island of New Zealand.

Tahr populations quickly grew out of control, and for a while, the government attempted to control the population chiefly by shooting them from the air.

The New Zealand Department of Conservation (DOC) has a goal of controlling tahr numbers in critical sites of high conservation value. The Himalayan Thar Control Plan 1993 includes the use of recreational and commercial hunters as well as the DOC contribute to tahr control.

Tahr and chamois (also non-native) inhabit the same high altitude alpine areas, but feed on different kinds of plant life. The tahr mostly eat tall snow tussock, while the chamois feed on native brooms and other more woody plants.

Populations are monitored closely, with a target of 10,000 animals or below. Both tahr and chamois are classified as pests in New Zealand.