Kerala Forest Department’s project to remove African Catfish (Clarias gariepinus) from Periyar Lake began on 16th March and will continue up to 21st.
Kerala Forest Department is collaborating with the Fishermen’s Eco-Development Committee (EDC) in Thekkady for this project. 475 kg of African Catfish was caught and removed from the lake. The Forest Department will give a special gift to the EDC member who catches the highest number of Mushis. This unique project was started in connection with World Forest Day which falls on 21st March.
Known locally as African Mushi, the African Catfish is a threat to the indigenous varieties of fish of Periyar Lake. There are 54 species of fish in the lake at the Periyar Tiger Reserve. Of these, 7 species are found only in this lake. It is believed that the Mushis have reached the Periyar Lake from farms during the monsoons.
The African Catfish is an imported breed of fish that is highly carnivorous. It feeds on the indigenous varieties of fish. This may result in the extinction of the native fish varieties. It also pollutes the water bodies in which it lives. The fisheries department had banned the rearing of African Mushi due to these reasons.