Golden mahseer

Key Facts

  • Common Name:

    Golden Mahseer

  • Scientific Name:

    Tor putitora

  • Population:

    Not assessed

  • Length:

    Maximum size recorded- 2.74 m

  • Weight:

    Maximum recorded- 50 kg

  • Status:

    Listed as endangered on IUCN Red List.

© Asghar Nawab/WWF-India
Golden mahseer
© Asghar Nawab/WWF-India


Mahseer roughly translates as mahi – fish and sher – tiger, and hence is also referred as tiger among fish. It is a large cyprinid and known to be the toughest among the fresh water sport fish. The body colour of an adult Golden Mahseer is golden on dorsal side and fins are reddish-yellow. Also the fish is characterized by their large scales and thick powerful lips with relatively longer barbels (sensory hair-like organs in front of the mouth).

The fish generally breed during floods and spawn over rocky, gravel substrates, often in ephemeral headwaters. Sexual productivity is low (6,000 – 10,000 eggs per kg). The individuals of the population grow at an average rate of 10cm annually. It is omnivorous in feeding habits. During migration, fish of all ages remain carni-omnivorous and the fish <46 cm size become piscivorous.

Conservation Issues

The species have suffered severe population declines in much of its distribution range, and are now considered threatened due to pollution, habitat loss and over-fishing. There is dearth of information on habitat, feeding and breeding ecology of the species. Mahseer is a sensitive species that can barely tolerate a modified water environment. This is evident from the decrease in its size (length) recorded over the last century, size composition (predominance of young/ immature individuals) and reduced share in the catch (as low as 5% from 40-50%) from it’s distribution ranges.

Out of the 47 species of Mahseer that exist in the world, India is home to fifteen. Tor remadevi is one of the newest species identified while Tor moyarensis, confined to the Moyar river of Tamil Nadu, is reported to be another.

WWF-India’s Initiatives

Realizing the severity of the stated dangers, WWF-India convened a national meeting in New Delhi to identify the problems, review current conservation initiatives and develop a conservation plan to improve the status of this and other Mahseer species in the reservoirs and rivers of India. Government officials, scientists, civil society groups and anglers interested in Mahseer conservation participated in the meeting. WWF-India also conducted Golden Mahseer survey and is in process of preparing the species management plan along 30km stretch of River Kosi in Uttarakhand.

Habitat and Distribution

Golden Mahseer lives in fast-moving waters, inhabiting hill streams with a rocky and stony substrate. They can be found in temperatures between 5°C and 25°C. The fish has also been introduced in lakes and occurs in large reservoirs. The Golden Mahseer inhabits the Himalayan foothills, the Indus, Ganga and Brahmaputra basins and can also be found down south in the Balamore, Cauvery, Tambraparini, and Kosi Rivers. Upon maturity, the adults inhabit lowland rivers and lakes and migrate upstream in torrential monsoon conditions to reach suitable spawning grounds.
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