ABOUT MAHSEER

An overview of mahseer fishes

Mahseers of the genus Tor are large cyprinid fishes endemic to Asia with a distribution spanning from Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar, Thailand, China, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Indonesia and Malaysia.

They are popular cultural icons of economic, recreational and conservation interest in many of these countries and more importantly serve as a ‘freshwater flagship’. Currently around 17 species of Tor are recognised as being valid, many of which are of significant conservation concern, due to various anthropogenic threats they face in the wild. Of the 17 species, 14 have been assessed for their conservation status by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in their Red List of Threatened Species.

While five species are listed as ‘Endangered’, one species each is listed as ‘Vulnerable’ and ‘Near Threatened’. Five of the remaining species have been listed as ‘Data Deficient’ as very little is known about these fishes, especially with regard to their distribution, natural history and populations. The remaining five species have not been assessed for their conservation status. In general all Tor species throughout Asia are threatened by overfishing (often using destructive gears), loss of habitats including migratory routes, deterioration and alteration of habitats as a result of both agro-based and sewage pollution.

Biogeographic range of mahseer fishes

The taxonomy and distribution of mahseer species is extremely complex. Acknowledging the considerable knowledge gaps that the Mahseer Trust is actively seeking to fill, the map below shows the current known distribution of key species throughout their native range. This distribution map, therefore, should be considered as a guide only, with future updates pending on-going research.

Click on each country to open a description of the known species distribution.

Afghanistan

KNOWN SPECIES

Tor putitora (below)

Tor_putitora

Pakistan

KNOWN SPECIES

Tor putitora (below)

Tor_putitora

Central India

KNOWN SPECIES

Tor tor (below)

Tor_tor

North India

KNOWN SPECIES

Tor putitora (below)

Tor_putitora

Tor tor (below)

Tor_tor

Tor mosal (below)

Tor_mosal

South India

KNOWN SPECIES

Hump-backed mahseer (below)

Hump-back_mahseer

Hump-back_mahseer_2

Tor khudree (below)

Tor_khudree_1

Tor_khudree_4

Tor malabaricus (below)

Tor_malabaricus

Tor remadevii (no image)

Tor kulkarnii (no image)

Sri Lanka

KNOWN SPECIES

Tor kudhree (below)

Tor_khudree_1

Tor_khudree_4

Nepal

KNOWN SPECIES

Tor putitora (below)

Tor_putitora

Bhutan

KNOWN SPECIES

Tor putitora (below)

Tor_putitora

Thailand

KNOWN SPECIES

Tor tambra (no image)

China

KNOWN SPECIES

Tor hemispinus (no image)

Tor laterivittatus (below)

Tor_laterivittatus

Tor polylepis (no image)

Tor sinensis (below)

Tor_sinensis

Tor yingjiangensis (no image)

Laos

KNOWN SPECIES

Tor ater (no image)

Vietnam

KNOWN SPECIES

Tor mekongensis (no image)

Tor dongnaiensis (no image)

Indonesia

KNOWN SPECIES

Tor tambra (no image)

Malaysia

KNOWN SPECIES

Tor tambra (no image)

Threats to mahseer

In general, all mahseer species throughout Asia are threatened by:

 

  • Overfishing (often using destructive gears)
  • Loss of habitat
  • Barriers to migration
  • Degradation of habitat due to agro-based and sewage pollution

 

The Mahseer Trust is working to understand these pressures and develop sustainable solutions for the enhancement and protection of these iconic fish throughout their natural range.