Tackling invasive alien species in the Western Ghats Hotspot, India

Krishnakumar K

The Periyar Lake-stream system in the Western Ghats Hotspot is an Alliance for Zero Extinction site harbouring the remaining population of six globally threatened endemic fish species, Crossocheilus periyarensis, Garra periyarensis, Hypselobarbus periyarensis, Lepidopygopsistypus, Nemacheilusmenoni and N. periyarensis. Four invasive alien fish species are found in the region and their numbers are increasing rapidly. These pose the most serious threat to the survival of local fish species. This project is the first systematic effort in the State of Kerala to manage invasive fish species. The project is designed to conserve and manage endemic fishes of Periyar Lake-stream system by reducing the population of alien species and halting any future release or introduction in consultation with the local fishers, wildlife managers and government policy makers. Working with the local community members and wildlife managers, the team will selectively remove exotic fish using baited multifilament fyke nets thus preventing the predation and competition on the native fishes. In addition to mitigating the current problem, the team will devise appropriate measures to prevent further introductions through disseminating the project’s results with policymakers and other key stakeholders in workshops and forums.