Monday 8 June 2015


Called 'Mighty Mahseer' or the 'Tiger of the Water' or locally, 'the big mouth'

A 95lb humpback mahseer caught from and released into the Cauvery in 2008.
Source: The Hindu
  • Large freshwater fish
  • known to be the toughest among the fresh water sport fish
  • Habitat has high oxygenated water with rocky bed
  • found in Indian Himalayas & in some places in Nepal, present in many of the rivers originating from the Himalaya’s.. 
  • Mahseer is migrating fish, during winters fish moves to the warm water (usually stays in cold water). 
  • As this fish has great smelling sense therefore it can detect food from quite a distance
  • Diet mainly includes fish & aquatic arthropods
Conservation status:
    • Mahseers were popular during the Colonial era when avid English anglers discovered that this native species offered all the thrills of a European salmon. Post-Independence, interest in these fishes too died down
  • Of the mahseer species found in India, five are listed as endangered, two as near threatened in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
  • Decline in the numbers of mahseer is not a recent phenomenon. 
    • The report of the National Commission on Agriculture (NCA) in 1976 may have been the first to highlight the need for mahseer conservation. 
    • Destruction of their habitat, poaching, indiscriminate fishing, construction of dams and limited resources are some of the factors putting pressure on their population.
  • Thus the Mahseer project, started in the 1970s, established standard techniques of breeding the species over decades of study at its breeding centre at Lonavla with help of TATA and MH govt. 
  • The Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972 too adds to the existing inconsistencies and offers little by way of relief to endangered species. 
  • “Despite fishes being included within the definition of ‘wildlife’, under Section 2(1), the Act does not explicitly draw attention to fish under the definition of ‘wild animal’. The Act states that no person shall hunt any ‘wild animal’ specified in the Schedule,”
  • Corbett has one of the biggest populations of the golden mahseer but there is no guard to keep an eye on it
  • WWF’s report on mahseer conservation in India suggests the establishment of a steering group comprising experts from various government and scientific departments and community representatives, establishment of Mahseer ‘Conservation Reserves’, community-based angling, and awareness and capacity building. 

Unless conservation methods are reworked urgently, it is just a matter of time before Corbett’s favourite mahseer turns from a dream to a mere memory.


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