Spatial Ecology and Conservation of Mahseer, in the Western Ghats Region

Spatial Ecology and Conservation of Mahseer, in the Western Ghats Region

Project Animal(s) : Mahseer
Project Category : Fish
Project Region : Asia
Project Type : Conservation
Project URL : https://www.rufford.org/projects/neethi_mahesh
Project is timebound? : Yes

Project Start Date : September 21, 2015

The study proposed is a first of its kind radio telemetry project which aims at generating baseline data on ecological requirements of Mahseer in the Western Ghats and Sri Lanka biodiversity hotspot. A pilot telemetry study will aid in bridging the knowledge gap on the respective migratory freshwater fish, further improving the potential to enable landscape level conservation, highlighting much neglected riverine habitats.

The study site situated in Valnoor, along the river Cauvery, it is best suited to initiate a telemetry study coupled with outreach work with support from the Coorg Wildlife Society (CWS), a local NGO, which has 28km of the river leased from the Fisheries Department- Government of Karnataka . CWS is actively involved in conservation and protection of this stretch and these efforts are largely supported by revenue generated from recreational catch and release, angling of Mahseer. They are also well recognised and known for their work with schools, and have initiated nature/ eco clubs in schools from Kodagu district.

The study aims to provide the necessary data required to provide recommendations to the Karnataka Fisheries Department, which can deliberate change of guidelines to the ‘Karnataka Inland Fisheries Act, 2003’ which states provision of the ‘Declaration of Sanctuary’. This provision lacks scientific guidelines for demarcation of a sanctuary and is restricted to religious, temple pool premises (50-500m). Telemetry coupled with habitat assessments, will act as a valuable tool to facilitate informed decision making. The study will carry broader implications in context to cumulative environment impact assessments, for dams.

The work also incorporates conservation education and outreach with schools and colleges, in Kodagu district, with the aim to instil a greater sense of community ownership of the river Cauvery. Community surveys will further give us an understanding of the effectiveness of privately managed protected river stretches and enable outreach in identified locations along the river.

Project Researcher : Neethi Mahesh

Project Researcher Contact : [email protected]