Karamjeet Singh's Himalayan Home

The undisputed king of the Himalayan rivers is the Mahseer. A large, powerful fish, it is the largest member of the carp family in the world. Mahseer means Great mouth in India, an apt name for the long slim creature known to be the toughest fighter amongst fresh water sports fish. In fact experienced anglers recommend sea fishing tackle rather than ordinary carp rods, if you're after the monster Mahseers.

Ranging across vast territories, Mahseer exhibits an astonishing range of habitats all across Asia, from the Himlayan highlands to the tropical forests of Thailand.

Various sub species have evolved to deal with the climatic differences. The Himalayan Mahseer or Barbus tor pututora as it is known, is found from the waters of the Beas, in the west, all the way to the Brahmaputra river system in the east. Some of the Rivers frequented by this very powerful fish include the Indus, Shyok, Beas, Ravi, Ganga, Yamuna, Mahakali, Teesta, Luhit, and the Dihang as the Brahmaputra is known in Assam.

Like all other wild creatures, the Mahseer has suffered the effects of environmental degradation and river pollution for decades now and the result has been not only a drastic decline in numbers, but in average size as well. As late as the 1930's, Mahseer as big as 100lbs were, though not exactly common, not rare either, especially in the Brahmaputra river system. Nowadays, 35lbs is a record catch!. The situation is better in the rivers of peninsular India due to eco conservation measures and habitat protection.

In the north, especially the Ganges river system, pollution has reached alarming levels primarily due to the fact that the Indo-gangetic plain is home to a population of some 300 million plus.
The extensive use of dynamite for fishing in the Himalayan areas has been another factor contributing to a decline in their numbers. A pursuit mainly of road labour gangs, it consists of tying a stick of dynamite to a stone and throwing it into the water. The resultant blast and concussion brings many fish belly up and these can then be gathered in. However, since most these dynamite fishermen lack nets and the Himalayan waters are fast flowing, the end result is that they manage to grab only a few fish for the dozens they kill and maim.

For those interested, a physical description is as follows ....... Elongated and fairly compressed body. The inter orbital space is flat and the ssnout is pointed while the jaws are of equal length. Barbels are in two pairs with the rostral barbel shorter than the maxillary. The dorsal fin rises opposite the ventral fin while the caudal fin is deeply divided. The lateral line is complete with 2 or 3 rows of scales which are of a large size. The body colour is golden along the lateral portion with the dorsal side being a dark gray shade. The fins are reddish-yellow in colour. (From S.S Negi - Himalayan Wildlife: Habitat and Conservation)


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