Conservation measures of golden mahaseer in Bhutan

Photo credit: Juie Claussen (FCF)

Review: Abdel Rahman El Gamal (Founder of the website)

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The golden mahaseer (Tor Putitora) is one of the highly prized sportfish in the rivers of the Himalayan region. The species is most attractive fish and may be considered as the ‘King of the Sport Fish’ in light of its aggressiveness as a sport fish bearing in mind it can grow to a length of about 2.7 meters and weigh up to 40 kg. The generation length of the species is close to 16 years.

Golden Mahaseer has undergone severe population declines in some areas of the world due to various reasons such as habitat loss and over-exploitation.

According to the International Union of Conservation (IUCN), among the various Mahaseer species, five are listed as “Endangered” and two as “Near Threatened” in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

A stock enhancement program for the species has been developed through the establishment of golden mahaseer hatchery in Bhutan.

Moreover, and in an effort to determine effective conservation strategies and management plans of golden mahaseer, key biological and behavioral information was found needed including their reproduction and life history (spawning migration, grounds and time), their feeding grounds, the location of their overwintering grounds; and where the fish go during the monsoon season.  In order to acquire such information, a scientific remote radio telemetry study has launched with the cooperation between the Ministry of Agriculture and Forests in Bhutan (MoAF), World Wildlife Fund- Bhutan (WWF) and the Fisheries Conservation Foundation (FCF).

The ongoing remote radio telemetry study on golden mahaseer is underway in the two major arms of the Manas River, the Mangde Chhu and Dangme Chhu. The project includes the construction of receiver stations, capturing of Mahaseer using angling, surgically implant the captured fish with transmitters, manually track tagged Golden Mahaseer when possible and finally downloading the movement data from the receiver stations at the end of the trip. The inserted photos show some activities carried out in the radio telemetry study.

Reference: MoAF, WWF, and FCF, 2015. Using radio telemetry to study mahaseer movement in Bhutan. Project Report Submitted by: David Philipp and Julie Claussen (Fisheries Conservation Foundation).




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