Once Narmada's pride, Mahaseers are on the verge of extinction
The fish of the state of Madhya Pradesh, known as the tiger of river or Mahaseer (tor tor), is on the brink of extinction. Until sometime back, it was 25%-28% of all fish in the Narmada. Now this number stands at less than 4%. The main reason is the conversion of rivers into reservoirs. This was revealed in a study by the Board of Biodiversity. The board has started making efforts to save this species. In 2011 the state had declared it as the state fish.
According to the study of Board of Biodiversity, the percentage of this fish about 5 to 10 years back, extended up to 28% of all fishes in Narmada. However, because of different kinds of human activities and building of dams, the population of this particular fish has shrunk to 4%. Mahaseer survives only in pure, clean water. This is why it is also called the tiger of the river. The other thing about this fish is that it procreates in flowing waters but dams in the river have created water reservoirs and restricted the water flow. The Narmada rive, in particular, is burdened with a large number of dams. Consequently, its spots of procreation, have been destroyed.
According to Elisabeth Thomas, manager of the Board of Biodiversity, there are indications of Mahaseer being found in certain places as revealed by local surveys made by the Khandwa forest circle of the forest department, local forest committees, forest employees and discussions with fishermen. Between the Onkareshwar dam and Khalghat in the section where Narmada waters flow, there are spots where Mahaseers are still found.
Attempt to save artificial water flows
According to the officers of Board of Biodiversity, Mahaseer is naturally found in Barwah forest division (mandal) under the Khandwa forest circle. But its little ones and eggs are not found. As a result, their number is constantly falling. Thus the Board has started a project to save this fish through Barwah forest division. Artificial sources and flows of water will be created here to preserve Mahaseer.