Conserving periled “tiger of the river”: golden mahseer in upper Ganga, India

Saurabh Dewan

Once acclaimed as the 'tiger', 'king', 'the great fighter' with 'unparalleled strength', the Himalayan or golden mahseer (Tor putitora) is in peril owing to destructive fishing methods, indiscriminate fishing of brooders, degradation of habitats due to construction of dams/barrages and other anthropogenic interventions. The current regulatory framework and conservation measures have failed to protect the species, currently assessed as Endangered in the IUCN Red List. The current proposal is an attempt to assess the population abundance in upper Ganga river so as to identify river stretches that constitute critical mahseer habitats and which can be prioritized for conservation and restoration. Further, evaluation of its population structure, dynamics and comparison with previous published records will help us in ascertaining the current reproductive status of the population and what may be expected in near future. Involving several stakeholders as local villagers, students, local political leaders, angling associations in different capacities will also help in achieving the long term conservation goal of population restoration. Awareness campaigns, installation of banners, distribution of banners to disseminate information about its breeding biology and migration routes to target local communities living along rivers will also aid in reducing indiscriminate fishing and conservation of broodstocks.