Rare fish called “Mahseer” sighted in Sileru river
A team of researchers from Andhra University sighted a rare fish called “Mahseer” in the Sileru river. The fish is listed as Endangered in IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) list.
Mahseer is commonly found in the Himalayan rivers that are running in cooler regions. This includes Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Bhutan, Nepal. It is a large fresh water fish. They mostly inhabit the fast-moving waters such as hill streams with rocky and stony substrates. There are 47 species of Mahseer in the world. Out of these, 15 are found in India.
Hump Backed Mahseer
Recently, in 2019, the IUCN changed the conservation status of Hump Backed Mahseer to Critically Endangered. They are found only in River Cauvery in India and no where in the world.
It is a project launched by the SHOAL, an international organization that is working to conserve fresh water species.
Indiscriminate fishing, poaching, destruction of habitat, construction dams were the major factors that led to the decline in Mahseer population. The need for conservation of Mahseer was first reported by the National Commission on Agriculture, 1976.
Mahseer is a sensitive species. They can barely tolerate modified water environment.
The Indian Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 does not give any protection to Mahseer. They are not mentioned in the National Fisheries Act as well. There are lack of information about the species migration patterns, population size and geographical spread.
The World Wildlife Fund-India are jointly preparing an atlas of Mahseer distribution. This conservation programme was begun in 2017. The fish is also being introduced in lakes and reservoirs.
The WWF-India is planning to designate 30 km stretch of Kosi river as community reserve. This is because, six Mahseer occurrence were identified in the region.
More conservatory efforts are required to save Mahseer fish. According to United Nations report on Global Biodiversity crisis, the fresh water species population have declined by 83%.
The first International Conference to save Mahseer was held in Bhutan in 2018. Earlier, in 2014, WWF-India convened a forum in Delhi.
The conferences recommended on increased research into ecology of mahseer and ensure artificial breeding.
It is a tributary of Sabari river. It originates in Andhra Pradesh and merges with Sabri in Andhra Pradesh. After collecting waters from Sileru, the Sabari river merges with Godavari river in Andhra Pradesh.
Sileru river has huge potential of hydro electricity and is being substantially harnessed. The hydro electric power projects across Sileru are MAchund (120 MW), Balimela (510 MW), Upper Sileru (240 MW), Donkarayi (25 MW) and Lower Sileru hydro (460 MW).