Saturday, June 18, 2011

Trout Vanishing from Himalayan Rivers

The condition of the Trout in the snow-fed streams of the Himalayas – the natural habitat of the fish – is getting worse and their number declining. Local conservationists say it is getting increasingly difficult to find trout in the Himalayan rivers where it once abounded. While natural calamities seem to have played a part in the dwindling numbers, so have human activities.

The story of the rarer brown trout is more dismal. The brown trout is found in rivers like the Beas, Tirthan, Sainj, Ravi, Uhl and Bapsa – all in Himachal Pradesh – besides certain spots in Uttarakhand and Jammu and Kashmir. And locals with an interest in preserving them insist their numbers have rediced alarmingly.

Like all breeds of trout, brown trout spawns in winter, normally between October and January. The eggs are deposited in gravel dug-up by female fish. Excessive rainfall or floods wash the eggs away, which hits the trout population badly. Excessive silting in the aftermath of rains, floods, poaching and hydro-projects in Sainj river have dealt a further blow to the fish.

As for poaching, officials say it isn’t logistically possible to man the entire course of a river and monitor what the locals are up to. Fisheries department officials say they are trying to control poaching and plan to undertake seed stocking.

While these efforts by the Fisheries department are good, more efforts need to be made in order to preserve the trout and the environment I the long run. Locals need to be educated about the importance of saving the fish and its positive effects on the eco-system. Strict measures also need to be taken against poaching the fish.

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