Rare fish ’Miss Kerala' on verge of extinction

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A rare ornamental fish species, popularly called Miss Kerala, found in the Western Ghats, is on the verge of extinction thanks to its illegal export, according to the Conservation Research Group of the St Albert's College in Kochi.
Although the government had banned the illegal collection of the fish, Red Lined Torpedo Barb ( Puntius denisonii), in 1999, it is still being clandestinely exported from the northern districts, it says. An expert on fish found in the waters of the Western Ghats, K. Krishna Kumar, who has been researching Miss Kerala for years, warns that unless the government takes stringent step to stop its illegal export, it could soon be merely a memory.

The eight rivers of the state , including the Pumpa, Achankovil, Chalakkudi, Manimala, Periyar and Bhararthappuzha,which are home to Miss Kerala, are losing the fish to greedy exporters who are not allowing it to breed, regrets Mr Kumar.

The fish was declared endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, but as the demand for it is rising in the international market many continue to export it from the northern districts of the state, according to him.

Its distinct pattern of colours makes it much sought after in the domestic and international aquarium industry, explains a scientist.

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