An historic two-day meeting, held in January 2017 and co-hosted by Tata Power and Mahseer Trust in the beautiful surroundings of Lonavala, India, has brought together a unique coalition to enact a wide-ranging strategy with the aim to conserve the endangered hump-backed mahseer from extinction.
#kaverimission will coordinate an interstate effort, including Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu, to implement a number of micro projects to address a broad range of issues that affect the health of the Cauvery River catchment and the rapidly declining population status of this iconic fish, which is endemic to the Cauvery and found nowhere else in the world.
Using a motto of ‘Respect the Goddess’, Mahseer Trust chairman, Steve Lockett said, “We recognise that without support through many agencies, and, crucially, those who interact and use the river and its tributaries on a daily basis, we cannot save this impressive fish, which is now on the brink of extinction.”
At the conclusion of the event, all delegates agreed on the pressing need to afford effective protection of the limited stocks still remaining. Working in collaboration with the local communities and wider population will involve art projects and education outreach from a number of expert providers.
The launch of Kaveri Mission
After a very successful two-day conference in Lonavla, hosted by the Tata Power / Mahseer Trust partnership, the new coalition to enact Kaveri Mission is growing.
Invited delegates from the three States of the River Cauvery basin discussed how to build a comprehensive strategy for rehabilitation of the hump-back mahseer as a flagship indicator species for all aspects of the river habitat.
Representatives from WWF-India, Bombay Natural History Society, IUCN Freshwater Fish Specialist Group, Zoo Outreach Coimbatore, Centre for Wildlife Studies Kerala and Tamil Nadu Forest Department met with members of Tata Power’s Biodiversity Unit, plus representatives from Mahseer Trust to discuss a wide range of issues; including fish stocking & breeding, habitat restoration, village level protection, outreach programmes and spreading the message of #respectgoddesskaveri
About Kaveri Mission
What is Kaveri Mission?
Many individuals and NGOs do excellent work conserving parts of the fragile ecosystems in the basin of the River Cauvery, but with increasing pressures upon the use of the river and associated habitats, there is an urgent need to connect all these participants. Mahseer Trust developed the idea of Kaveri Mission as a framework within which all those who have an interest in the various aspects of the habitat can play a role.
Why is Kaveri Mission needed?
While the groups and individuals mentioned before are capable of doing fantastic work, in many instances they may be not be aware of the impact they have upon the interests of others in the region. Not only is there a need to connect as many players with diverse interests as possible, but also, by working in harmony, the whole is strengthened.
How does this help mahseer?
Across the whole basin of the River Cauvery, there are probably only two or three remaining breeding populations of the endemic hump-backed mahseer, if they are lost, the species becomes extinct. Multiple pressures have caused the population crash of the last 15 years, and it is of vital need that the habitat receives better protection if this fish species is to survive.
What if another group has a conflicting interest?
There is always a chance that habitat-use interests will conflict, but without attempting to reach negotiated agreements for mutual benefit, then all are impacted. Understanding that protection of an ecosystem involves every part, not only the part of any group or individual’s special interest, has to be the basis on which all conservation work is based.
How can you help Kaveri Mission?
First, by offering help in a number of areas: this could be actively volunteering time and effort, either on-the-ground, or by assisting with awareness. Second, by spreading the word about Kaveri Mission through friends and family, or social media. Encouraging others to become involved will ensure the Mission continues to grow and gives access to a diverse range of interests, skills and specialities.
Where is Kaveri Mission based?
At present, there is interest from Mahseer Trust, Tata Power, Bombay Natural History Society, WWF-India, IUCN Freshwater Fish Specialist Group, Wildlife Association of South India, Coorg Wildlife Society, as well as individuals within the Forest Departments of Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu. Between us, we hope to employ an officer, to be based within the catchment of the River Cauvery, to oversee the connections between all aspects of conservation projects and the people who live within the river basin.