New fish species discovered in Bhutan

This video is called Bhutan – the last true Illusion of Shangri-La.

From Kuensel daily in Bhutan:

New fish species discovered in Lingshi

7 September, 2007 – A new fish species, not previously reported in Bhutan, has been discovered in the streams of Lingshi gewog, say officials of the department of livestock.

The Triplophysa stoliczkae, commonly called the loach was first discovered in a stream of the Tshoka Tsho (lake) by Phub Tshering, a park guard of the Jigme Dorji National Park, on September 23 last year.

Mr. Phub Tshering was among the team from JDNP, the Nature Conservation Division and Department of Forests, which, on the command His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo, had set out to investigate the possibility of existence of fish in the water bodies of Lingshi. …

The discovery of a new species brings the total number of fish species recorded in Bhutan to about 50, caught and identified by two livestock officials.

The fish is distinguished by black saddle-shaped bands on the back, spotted caudal and dorsal fins, and spotted dorsal surface of outer rays of paired fins and anterior rays. The fish grows up to a length of about 100 mm.

The distribution of this fish species is found in India, Ladakh (headwaters of Indus) and China.

Although the fish has no economical value, it has important ecological import, livestock officials said. The National Cold Water Fishery Centre will undertake studies on the possibility of its use as an ecological indicator (sentinel species) for monitoring environmental health.

The Centre is mandated with compiling a database of fishery resources and water quality of all water bodies, including fishery development in the kingdom.

In the northern rivers of Bhutan, three species of snow trouts, scyzothor[a]x and the brown trout, introduced in Bhutan as early as the 1930s, were found. In the low levels and warmer parts of the country, where the air temperature is above 29C, the Mahseer is found.

The Mahseer species, according to the livestock director, comes to Bhutan during the breeding season in summer and goes back during the winter.

The other warm water species found in Bhutan are Pseudocheneis, Psilorhynchus, Nemachylus, Gar[r]a, Danius, Semiplotus, Barsilius etc.

Meanwhile, extensive studies on fish-fauna in the rivers of Bhutan were never carried out before, but officials believe that there may be around 197 species, in line with the fish species found in neighbouring regions in India, Nepal and the Himalayan vicinity.


8 thoughts on “New fish species discovered in Bhutan

  1. Endangered Mahseer faces extinction

    Ravinder Sood

    Palampur, June 2

    Golden Mahseer, which was categorised as an endangered species by the National Bureau of Fish Genetic Resources (NBFGR), Lucknow, in 1992, has been fast disappearing from the state.

    The major causes of this loss are the distortion of rivers due to the construction of river valley projects, multipurpose dams, shrinking habitat and poaching. While exploitation and poaching deplete the fish population, the construction of barrages acts as a physical barrier in the migration of this fish resulting in the prevention of its breeding, feeding as well as rearing of its progeny.

    The state has a rich diversity of water resources in the shape of snow-fed perennial rivers, seasonal streams and reservoirs, ponds, natural lakes and irrigation channels. Here, Mahseer is described as the food fish of the fishermen and an ace game fish equivalent to Canadian Salmon by sport fishermen visiting the state.

    A serious setback to its population was realised in early 1980s when members of the Himachal Angling Association noticed a steep decline in its availability and considerable reduction in its size. Within a span of 10-15 years, the appearance of Mahseer in the catches of fishermen using cast nets dipped to as low as 2 per cent.

    Accordingly, the association demanded the inclusion of Mahseer in the list of endangered species. Passive conservation measures like the introduction of rational licensing, regulation of mesh size of nets, prescribing stringent punishment for offences of dynamiting and poisoning of waters, declaring some waters as sanctuaries etc., included in the HP Fisheries Act, 1976, did not help much.

    These measures became meaningless in the Himalayan ecosystem due to the abysmal state of their implementation and host of other reasons such as rapid urbanisation, road construction, river valley projects and excessive fishing pressure.

    The NBFGR ultimately included Golden Mahseer in the list of endangered species. It is over a decade when this was done but nothing has improved as no concrete steps have been taken. The dwindling fishery resources in the country and also the devastatingly reduced stocks of the game fishes have been worrying conservationists and members of the angling associations.

    It is unfortunate that the state government and the bureaucracy is insensitive and non-responsive to the issues raised for the promotion of sport fishing and boosting “fish tourism” even though the state has two of the world’s best game fishes, Trout and Mahseer.

    The tourism department must give a fresh look at the state’s potential for the sport. The fisheries department has to draw an action plan with an inbuilt roadmap to maintain the population of suitable game fishes, at least in some selected stretches at the optimum level.


  2. Talks begin over return of refugees

    NEPAL: The country agreed with Bhutan yesterday to restart talks on the return home of tens of thousands of Bhutanese refugees living in Nepal.

    More than 100,000 ethnic Nepalese – a Hindu minority in Bhutan – were forced out in the early 1990s by the dominant Buddhist culture.

    Bhutan insists that they left voluntarily and renounced their citizenship.

    Nepal has not granted them citizenship because of the cost of integrating them.


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