Humpback Mahseer listed as ‘Endangered;’ to be extinct within a generation

Humpback Mahseer listed as ‘Endangered;’ to be extinct within a generation

The research suggests that the introduction of non-native blue-finned Mahseer from Maharashtra during the 1980s has acted as the catalyst which has had a “catastrophic” effect on the numbers of endemic Mahseer remaining in the River Cauvery and its tributaries.

Humpback Mahseer, one of the world’s largest and hardest fighting freshwater fish, might face extinction in a generation, due to pollution, hydel power projects and sand extraction.
The orange finned fish, found only in India’s Cauvery Basin, has been facing a sharp decline in the population and now has been listed as an endangered species.

According to a new study, conducted by biologists from India and Britain, and published in the journal Endangered Species Research, among the 17 species of Mahseer, 4 species have been listed as endangered species on the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) Red List.

“With its (fish) distribution having always been limited to South India’s River Cauvery basin, this fish is now believed to be so endangered it may be extinct in the wild within a generation,” said Rajeev Raghavan, a biologist specialising in freshwater fish at the Conservation Research Group at St Albert’s College in Kerala.

For the study, Rajeev Raghavan, and his colleagues from the Bournemouth University in the UK, used logbooks maintained by three angling camps on the Cauvery as proxy indicators of the population of the orange-finned fish in the river.

Both the scientists have been studying the ecology, taxonomy and conservation status of 17 species of Mahseer which populate rivers throughout south and southeast Asia since 2010.

The research suggests that the introduction of non-native blue-finned Mahseer from Maharashtra during the 1980s has acted as the catalyst which has had a “catastrophic” effect on the numbers of endemic Mahseer remaining in the River Cauvery and its tributaries.

It said that the blue-finned Mahseer despite not being native to the River Cauvery, over the last two years have shown that they are now one of the most abundant fish in the river.

“Without a doubt, their success has been at the expense of the humpbacked Mahseer that historically occurred throughout the entire river catchment,” said Adrian Pinder of Bournemouth University in the UK.

“The state of confusion surrounding Mahseer taxonomy means the humpback Mahseer currently lacks a valid scientific name and could potentially go extinct before being named,” he added.

“If we are not already too late, obtaining DNA from this animal will allow us to name the fish and, based on our data, get it classified as ‘critically endangered’ on the IUCN Red List,” he said.

The orange-finned mahseer, that can weigh up to 50kg, is found only in the Cauvery river, while other mahseer species are found in rivers across the country.

Source: Zee News

Comments

  1. Siddhartha says

    Other than the reasons mentioned above, one of the main reasons for this impending threat of extinction of the Giant Humpbacked Mahseer Fish in the Cauvery would be the stealthy and unscientific (and possibly unauthorized) introduction of hatchling, juvenile and young crocodiles from Bannerghatta and surrounding areas brought in by the wildlife forest guards /officials and dropped in places like Sangama, Mekedatu, Bommasandra, etc. in the Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary near “Galibore Fishing Camp” in Kanakapura Taluk, near Bangalore. I have indisputable first-hand information & evidence of this. This used to be the area where this particular Mahseer species was most protected and flourished. This part of Cauvery used to have crocodiles before too, but the characteristics and nature of the crocodiles introduced later are very different from the original local ones. The later introduced crocodiles are relatively more aggressive in nature, less afraid of humans and have started to threateningly dominate the river space here. They have disturbed the sensitive balance of the eco-system here. I am a local and a keen observer of this place and have personally experienced the fast deteriorating situation of the Cauvery due to outside introduced crocodiles in this particular space that used to be a heaven for Mahseer and other riverine species. A detailed scientific study and corrective action in this regard is Highly Urgently needed to restrict further damage to the eco-system here

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