Friday 20 October 2023




All images courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

A polygon has at least three sides and three angles and cannot have any curved sides. A square is a polygon, and so is a star. The polygon I am thinking of is a regular polygon word puzzle in ‘The Times’. Tuesday’s polygon was a hexagon consisting of six four-sided polygons or Isosceles trapezoids enclosing a hexagon.

Today’s polygon is a heptagon of seven Isosceles trapezoids enclosing a heptagon. Last Friday’s was an octagon and Saturday’s was a nonagon. Whatever the size of the polygon, the challenge remains the same. In the central shape is a letter and the surrounding shapes have one letter each. Simply, the player has to find words composed of at least four of the random letters (sometimes at least three, depending on the size of the polygon), but each word must contain the central letter.

In the course of playing it I have discovered words I never knew existed, thus negating any thoughts I had previously embraced about having a ‘good vocabulary’. Too many times I have to press the ‘Solution’ button, which always kindly enquires, ‘Are you sure you want to reveal the solution?’

Thus it was that I came across ‘tahr’, which can be spelt ‘tehr’ but wasn’t on this occasion, as there was no ‘e’. The letters were a central ‘T’, meaning that it had to be used in any three-letter or more word, surrounded by Y, A, H, R, C, I. There are thirty words to be made from this array. Encouraging messages pop up if you’re lucky - ‘Average’, ‘Good’, ‘Very good’ and so on.

Female Himalayan tahr

Anyway, ‘tahr’ was new to me, but maybe not to a New Zealander or a South African. A tahr, I discovered, is an Asian animal related to goats and sheep. There are three species with distinct differences. The Himalayan tahr is widespread in the Himalayas and was introduced to the Southern Alps of New Zealand to be hunted for sport, along with another introduced species, the chamois. To gain some revenge these two animals are now posing a serious threat to the ecosystems in those areas. They have no natural predators and so must be controlled by other means.

The male Himalayan tahr has a beautiful mane.

The following from Wikipedia:

New Zealand alpine ecosystems evolved over millions of years in isolation without any large mammal browsers (such as tahr), and many alpine plants have no defence mechanisms (such as toxins or spines) to discourage tahr from eating them.

Herding browsers such as tahr and chamois cause two-fold damage; firstly, by eating native plants; secondly by trampling large areas of vegetation and compactable soils, when herds of animals gather together.

Tahr graze at high altitudes, in alpine grasslands and sub-alpine shrublands, and browse on native plants that birds, lizards and insects use for feeding, nesting and shelter. The tahr diet includes some large, succulent herbaceous species including alpine buttercups and mountain daisies. Some of these species are ranked as Threatened or At Risk by the New Zealand Threat Classification System.

Tahr also feed on snow tussock and shrub species which are the dominant vegetation in many of New Zealand’s subalpine and alpine environments. Tahr are a major threat to the sensitive ecosystems of alpine regions as their social nature increases pressure in localised areas. In extreme situations, large groups of tahr can transform tall tussocks and subalpine shrublands to a grassy turf or bare ground.

A pair of Himalayan tahrs escaped from a South African zoo in 1936 and established a small population on Table Mountain. Most of them have been culled.

The other two species are the Arabian tahr of Oman and the Nilgiri tahr of South India. Both are considered endangered, with the Nilgiri tahr being susceptible to poaching and illegal hunting.


  1. I didn't know New Zealand had tahr. The Antipodes was rather good at importing creatures that turned out to have a terrible impact on the environment and still do.

  2. I knew NZ had Tahr - I used to be involved in a cull program - but we always misspelled (it turns out) it at thar.

    1. Such a unique ecosystem should be protected at all times. People don't think . . .

  3. Mankind rarely gets it right when introducing different species, do we? xx

    1. No, we don't. The American grey squirrel has ousted our little red squirrel in most areas.

  4. The tahr is new to me too. Rather a fine beast.

  5. Strange name.
    I get really cross with those type of word puzzles as the answers are always words that I'm sure don't exist!

    1. What annoys me even more is when I put in a word that is then rejected. For example, I put in 'Wester' today, a wind or storm coming from the west, but it was rejected. Bah, humbug!

  6. First I thought you started "modern art" paintings, then I got confused, from a polygon to strange never seen animals I landed in new Zealand, into a South African Zoo.
    If I had to learn all of this at school, I would sleep wonderfully.

  7. It's a good job l'm not going into town to~day...
    Give me me time to struggle through 'ALL' this...
    Jeeeese! I lost it from paragraph 2/4 and then some...! :(

    Now! For me a Polygon is a disappearing 'parrot'
    See! Polly~gone...disappearing parrot...polly...???
    Oh! Never mind...! :).
    And the Himalayan Tahr, looks like a nice animal,
    wonder what the meat tastes like, much like a deer
    l suppose....tender, and very little fat...!

    I'm off to make a lemon tea, Earl Grey, with honey
    and lemon...I'll be right back, must study that Poly.....
    see if l can grasp it at the 'right' angle....! :O).
    💨💦 💨💦 💨💦 💨💦 💨💦 💨💦 💨💦 💨

  8. Your first comments made me laugh, Willie - thank you:-)

  9. THis animal is new to me too, I've never heard of it. I think it is unfair that the male gets a beautiful mane and coat while the female looks like she got a bad perm.
    We have similar word puzzles in our newspaper daily, it's fun doing them, ours always have nine letters with varying numbers of words to be found.

  10. The things I learn from your blog, Janice! Not to mention the increase in my English vocabulary. I do fear I'd have to press the solution button quite a few times! xxx

  11. On some days I have to seek the solution quite early because on some days my brain doesn't seem to be awake! x x x


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