Saturday, January 28, 2012

Asian Arowana

          Asian Arowana, Asian Bonytongue, Golden Arowana, Golden Dragon Fish, is a fairly large mouth brooding fish which lives in lakes, deep parts of swamps, flooded forests and stretches of deep rivers with slow currents and dense, overhanging vegetation (We know them as Vasthu Fish and Ugly big fish moving in circles in every aquarium). The population of this species is at very low densities throughout its range following significant declines in the past. This has been a highly valued species in the international aquarium trade since the 1970s and has been listed CITES since 1975. There are a number of registered CITES breeders in Asia and the specimens they produce can be imported into several nations. Other nations restrict or prohibit possession of this species. Illegal trade does occur. Habitat degradation throughout the species' range, caused by a variety of human activities, is now its main threat. A number of swamp habitats have been transformed into agricultural land. Areas of forested habitat have been logged and transformed into plantations. Forest fires have impacted most of the species range in Indonesia, especially peat swamp forests. This species is assessed as Endangered based on a decline in area of occupancy, extent of occurrence and habitat quality, and levels of exploitation.

Status: Endangered by IUCN, 2006.

Population: The fish is Native to Cambodia, Myanmar, Thailand and Viet Nam and was introduced in Singapore. The population of this species is at very low density throughout its range following significant declines in the past of well over 50%. Populations are currently decreasing.

Threat: This species has been targeted for the aquarium trade since the 1970s, which has impacted populations. Now trade is regulated, but enforcement is not optimal and there is still pressure on some of the wild populations (the most colourful ones). It is also caught incidentally in local fisheries. Habitat degradation by a variety of human activities is now its main threat.

Conservation Underway: The Asian arowanas are listed as endangered by the 2006 IUCN Red List. International trade in these fishes is controlled under the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES), under which it was placed on Appendix I, the most restrictive category, in 1975. The Asian Arowana is one of only eight fish species listed on Appendix I. Inclusion in the IUCN Red List was originally based not on biological reasons but on practical ones: though widely distributed throughout Southeast Asia, they have been harvested heavily by aquarium collectors. However, habitat loss is likely a greater threat than aquarium collecting. There is no recent evaluation of conservation status by IUCN. Additionally, considering the current confusion as to number of species as well as the wide distribution, conservation status needs to be reconsidered. All strains are probably endangered, but some (notably the super red and red-tailed golden) more critically than others. Captive-bred arowanas that are legal for trade under CITES are documented in two ways. First, fish farms provide each buyer with a certificate of authenticity and a birth certificate. Second, each specimen receives an implanted microchip, called a Passive Integrated Transponder (PIT), which identifies individual animals.

In India all the Arowanas are farm breed but without any licence and I personally believe CITES banned the export and import of the fish in India, but still the black market thrives, we can see them in 90% of the aquariums and restaurants. Stop buying Arowana and stop the illegal trade to save the animal.


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