A glimpse of Katli
A freshwater fish inhabiting the rivers in India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Myanmar, Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia, the omnivorous Copper Mahseer is listed as Near Threatened in the IUCN Redlist.
The North-east is always fascinating for any biodiversity lover. One can find rare mammals, ample birds, and enormous butterfly here, but some lesser vertebrates, specially the fishes are always backbenchers. But the area of Terrai and Dooars has a magical diversity of fishes.
It was a shiny morning of April 2017 with blue sky, when I was patrolling through the stones and waters of Mahakal. Mahakal is under Buxa Tiger Reserve, West Bengal specially known worldwide for its lepidopteran diversity. Covered by the thick jungles, the river Jayanti is flowing through the big boulders of rock. After three hours of trekking, I sat on a boulder for some rest, and there the water of jayanti creates a small natural pool. And then I found this little masterpiece, the Copper Mahseer.
The Copper Mahseer or Katli (Neolissochilus hexagonolepis) is a green-bronze barb with a white underside. The snout is blunt, scales are large and pronounced, black fins and the eyes are red. The average weight of a fish is 4.5 kg, however, it can reach a weight of 11 kg. It can be found in the entire South-east Asia, but in India, it is available in the North-Eastern part mainly. The preferable habitat is a hilly stream with a rocky bottom.
Katli prefers an omnivorous diet and prefers to live in schools. The breeding season is April to October, and breeds in natural pools made by the river. They control the growth of submerged aquatic plants by eating them. The Bengali name of this fish is ‘Bhorkhol’ and ‘Pakiranga’ in Assamese. A perfect game-fish for its ever-busy nature and delicious taste, this fish slowly faces threats from the common people.