Mahseer Survival Conservation of Golden mahseer Tor putitora: Innovations to Policy Interventions
Saevus|December 2020 - February 2021
The author describes the threats faced by the mahseer population and explains ways to minimize the looming peril to the species.
DR HARENDRA SINGH BARGALI

Mahseer, popularly regarded as the Tiger (king) among the freshwater fish, belongs to genera Tor, Neolissochilus and Naziritor of the Cyprinidae family. Throughout the world there are 47 species of mahseer, of which 15 species exist in India, where they are considered as important game fish by both national and international anglers. Golden mahseer, Tor putitora, is a widely distributed species in Pakistan, India, Nepal, and Bhutan. The fish can attain over 50 kg weight and grow to a length of about 2.75 meters. The golden mahseer is an omnivore, i.e., it eats all sorts of prey and vegetable matters. With the onset of monsoon, heavy rains cause flooding in the rivers which provides necessary stimulus to brooders and triggers upstream migration for spawning, necessary to facilitate successful reproduction.

The golden mahseer serves as an indicator of health of the aquatic ecosystem as it is an integral component of the ecosystem and thrives well in habitats with high dissolved oxygen contents. In India, the golden mahseer mainly inhabits the Himalayan rivers along the foothills of the great mountains, and is highly sought-after as game fish to recreational anglers because of its large size, attractive golden colour and great fighting qualities. The species, however, is facing severe threats from unregulated overfishing and the application of unethical means such as, the use of electricity, dynamiting and poison; the loss of habitat and breeding grounds; habitat degradation due to hydrological projects; and a range of anthropogenic impacts. The species is estimated to have declined by more than 50% in the last 21 years. Under IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, the golden mahseer is listed as Endangered with its population showing a declining trend.

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