Rampant spread of catfish endangering native aquatic species of Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary
‘Unprecedented floods may have facilitated introduction of invasive alien species into new habitats’
The rampant spread of catfish, recognized domestically as African Mushi, within the waterbodies of the Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary (WWS) is posing hazard to the native aquatic species of the sanctuary, which is already dealing with risk from the wild development of alien species of vegetation, together with Senna spectabilis.
Though the sighting of catfish had been reported in waterbodies of the district, together with main rivers, this was the primary time that it was reported within the sanctuary.
“When we planned to organise a survey to make a checklist on the presence of indigenous fish species in the waterbodies of the sanctuary as part of World Biodiversity Day, some tribespeople informed me about the presence of the invasive species of fish inside the ponds of the sanctuary,” warden S. Narendra Babu instructed The Puucho.
In a pattern survey carried out in two waterbodies within the Muthanga forest vary, the frontline workers collected 73 catfishes, weighing 50.5 kg, mentioned Mr. Babu. “There are 217 waterholes inside the sanctuary, including check dams, spread over four forest ranges and we are planning to conduct a survey in all the waterholes in the coming days,” he added.
It was suspected that the unprecedented floods over the previous two years within the district might need facilitated the introduction of the aquatic invasive alien species into the brand new habitats, mentioned Mr. Babu. The phenomenon endangered ecosystems, habitats and native aquatic species of the sanctuary, which was already dealing with risk from the rampant development of invasive vegetation reminiscent of Mikania micrantha, Lantana, and Eupatorium, he added.
Researchers mentioned that in heavy floods, invasive alien fish which had been illegally farmed in fragile methods, together with home aquarium tanks, ponds, lakes and deserted quarries, escaped from captivity and entered close by wetlands. After some time, they slowly started to wipe out native varieties by altering the capabilities of the ecosystem.