Wondernose: What animal lives in one of the world’s most inaccessible regions?

by Rebecca Martin | May 1, 2024 | 0 comments

Himalayan tahr
Himalayan tahr. Photo © Ivanka Blazkova|Dreamstime.com.

Now you are busy thinking what that inaccessible region might be. Antarctica? Certainly hard to reach, but I was thinking of some other remote place.

That’s it—our mystery animal is a mountain dweller. Some species even live above the tree line. These swift, sure-footed creatures are perfectly at home on very steep slopes. Jumping from one ledge to another that’s 30 feet (9 m) lower is no problem for our mystery animal.

Yes, Wondernose, you are getting close when you think of mountain sheep or mountain goats. Our animal is related to wild goats. Some of the species have very long coarse hair, especially on the forequarters. No doubt such a coat helps them to keep warm in the winter. The one species is found high in the Himalayan mountains, over 13,000 thousand feet (4000 m) up. Now that is what I call remote!

And the weather is quite harsh. What do such animals eat, especially in the winter?

Our mystery animal is an herbivore. They eat leaves, grasses, fruit, and even browse on twigs.

The Himalayan tahr have been called the world’s most inaccessible creatures. Did you notice, Wondernose? I let out the answer to the riddle just now. I figured you had possibly never heard of tahr anyway. For these Himalayans, it seems the steeper the mountainside, the better! As for food, they do go down the mountains in the spring; there in the valleys they feast on the new green grass as it comes up through the snow. But for much of the year they don’t get too many feasts.

Then there are the Arabian tahr. The mountains where they live may not be as steep or as high as the Himalayas. All in all, however, their habitat is more hostile because not much grows at all. The Arabian tahr is smaller, measuring only 24 inches (60 cm) at the shoulder, whereas the Himalayan species is heavier built, up to 40 inches (100 cm) high. They have bigger horns too. The horns may be 12-15 inches (30-38 cm) long, curving back over the head.

There is also a species called the Nilgiri tahr, living in the Sinai Peninsula area. These are the biggest tahr, attaining heights of 42 inches (106 cm). Both the Nilgiri and the Arabian tahr are endangered. Not so the Himalayan species! They seem to thrive wherever they are, even in countries where they’re not native.

For example, Wondernose, a pair of Himalayan tahr was once sent to a zoo in another country. The zookeepers had built a fence 5 feet (1.5 m) high around the tahrs’ designated space. But if they thought a 5-foot (1.5 m) fence could keep those tahr in, they were wrong. Pretty soon the tahr jumped over the fence and ran away to a nearby mountain. Within a number of years, the original two tahr had grown into a herd of fifty. They seemed to thrive on their diet of acorns, which were plentiful on that mountain.

Browse Categories

Help Your Family Explore the Wonders of God's Creation

Full color magazine delivered to your door + digital access. Subscribe now for just $5 a month!

Buy Magazine: $5/month

Buy Magazine + Study Guide: $7.50/month

Buy Gift Subscription