Rampant catfish spread endangering native aquatic species at Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary

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“Unprecedented flooding may have facilitated the introduction of invasive alien species into new habitats”

The rampant spread of the catfish, locally known as the African Mushi, in the water bodies of the Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary (WWS) poses a danger to the sanctuary’s native aquatic species, which are already threatened by the growth. wild exotic plant species, including Senna spectabilis.

Although catfish sightings have been reported in water bodies in the district, including major rivers, this was the first time it was reported at the sanctuary.

“When we planned to organize a survey to make a checklist on the presence of native fish species in the water bodies of the sanctuary as part of World Biodiversity Day, some tribes informed me. of the presence of invasive species of fish inside the ponds of the sanctuary ”, declared the director S. Narendra Babu The Hindu.

In a sample survey conducted in two bodies of water in the Muthanga Forest Range, frontline staff collected 73 catfish weighing 50.5 kg, Babu said. “There are 217 water points inside the sanctuary, including control dams, spread over four forest areas and we plan to carry out a survey in all the water points in the coming days”, a- he added.

It is suspected that unprecedented flooding over the past two years in the district may have facilitated the introduction of aquatic invasive alien species into the new habitats, Babu said. The phenomenon endangered the ecosystems, habitats and native aquatic species of the sanctuary, which were already threatened by the rampant growth of invasive plants such as Mikania micrantha, Lantana and Eupatorium, he added.

The researchers said during heavy flooding, invasive alien fish that were illegally reared in fragile systems including home aquariums, ponds, lakes and abandoned quarries escaped from captivity and entered nearby wetlands. . After awhile, they slowly began to eliminate landraces by altering ecosystem functions.


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