The Himalayan serow (Capricornis thar) is a medium-sized goat like antelope, native to the montane forests of the Himalayas. It is considered a flagship species due to its specialized habitat requirements of dense and undisturbed forests. Decline in overall population has been attributed to poaching and habitat loss in recent times.
Himalayan Serow has been previously assessed as ‘near threatened’, is now been categorised as ‘vulnerable’ in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
A Himalayan mammal regarded it to be a “Himalayan Serow”-somewhere between a goat and an antelope has been spotted for the very first time in Assam. It is to be mentioned that the serow was first spotted in the Manas Tiger Reserve in December 2020 by a couple of tourist and guides.
The species is characterised by its large head, long mule-like ears, thick neck and short limbs. They have a coarsecoat which varies in colour from grizzled black, blackish grey-roan to red.According to a biologist, the Himalayan serow as resembling a cross between a goat, a donkey, a cow, and a pig. It’s a medium-sized mammal with a large head, thick neck, short limbs, long, mule-like ears, and a coat of dark hair.
The Himalayan serow, or Capricornis sumatraensis thar, is restricted to the Himalayan region and can be regarded as a subspecies of the mainland serow (Capricornis sumatraensis).
Habitat of Himalayan Serow:
They inhabit steep hills with rocky slopes, especially limestone
regions up to 3,000 m above sea level, and also in hill and mountain forest areas with gentler terrain. Serows prefer damp and thickly wooded gorges and typically occur at altitudes between 1,500-4,000 m . Aryal (2008) showed that serow preferred 2,500–3,500 m altitude range in central Himalaya of Nepal, while in Sikkim, India, Himalayan serow were most frequently detected in the subalpine habitats and temperate habitats within the low and mid-elevation range of 1,200–3,700 m with a preference for higher elevation > 2100 m
- The species is oriental in origin and is known to occur in east and southeast Bangladesh, Himalayas (Bhutan, northern India including Sikkim and Nepal), China (Tibet only), northeast India (provinces east of Bangladesh), and have uncertain presence in Myanmar
The Himalayan serow is a generalist herbivore. It feeds on a variety of food items, including oak leaves, shrubs, grasses, shoots, montane bamboo, ferns, moss and lichen
They are solitary, shy and nocturnal animals and poorly studied. Their elusive nature, preference for rugged terrain, occurrence in low densities has contributed to the lack of information on them
- Why is the sighting of the serow unusual? Serows are generally not found at an altitude with an average elevation of 4,270 metres above sea level, however, it was never before has a serow been seen in the Himalayan cold desert. Wildlife officials believe this particular animal may have strayed into the Spiti valley from the Rupi Bhaba Wildlife Sanctuary in adjoining Kinnaur.