BOFFINS from an English University hope they have taken the first step to saving the famous hump-backed mahseer from extinction... after fighting to give it a scientific Latin name.

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A team from Bournemouth University have been working with colleagues in India to save hump-backed mahseer  – the iconic river species found in the Cauvery River.

Some 145 years after being written in HS Thomas’s classic A Rod In India in 1873, it has been allocated a scientific name – Tor remadevii – as a key step to save this highly threatened species from extinction.

Professor Adrian Pinder explained: “Lacking a formal scientific name has precluded the iconic hump-backed mahseer from being afforded formal recognition on the International Union for Conservation of Nature red list of threatened species.

“It left the few remaining fish unprotected against factors such as dynamite fishing and river engineering projects.

“It was just unbelievable that such an enormous animal, recognised by anglers around the world, could be about to go extinct in advance of being afforded a scientific name.

“We knew something needed to be done to support the survival of this species. The alarming and rapid loss of this iconic species from the majority of the Cauvery system has deeper conservation implications.”

Mahseer in real peril

Adrian added: “When we think of endangered species, we often think of ‘flagship’ species such as the giant panda and Bengal tiger, which are currently and respectively assessed on the IUCN Red List.

“But with the hump-backed mahseer we are talking about a creature which is actually more in peril than these better known icons,” concluded Adrian.

Former matchman and angling journalist Steve Lockett, a Mahseer Trust education officer said: “Once abundant in the River Cauvery, this endemic and iconic fish now stands on the brink of extinction.

“Let’s hope this is the start of a truly amazing conservation story. We need to do more work on the habitat and life history of the hump-backed mahseer.”

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