Bombs and Dead mahseer confiscated by Mahseer Conservancy Guards.

The objectives of the Mahseer conservation scheme were to eradicate the serious destruction of freshwater ecosystem in part of the Ramganga and to provide tangible based benefits and stakeholdership to the local communities.

 

Local villagers were getting no benefits or employment from the increasing tourism in the already impoverished and remote area and had turned to using dynamite bombs and poisons to extract fish, primarily the golden mahseer (Tora putitora) from the river causing serious damage to the whole ecosystem.

Bringing in the Forest Department, local conservation managers, and of course the villagers themselves we devised a scheme whereby the sport-fishing rights for the 24km of Ramganga River in Corbett Tiger Reserve were assigned to four private beat management associations.

 

These beats would then in pass on 60% of all angling permit profits directly to the villages along their beats. Also the scheme stipulated that all beats must send local people for training at the Cauvery River, Karnataka and to forthwith employ local the villagers as fishing guides and for river patrol. Key members of the community had to be converted and employed to patrol the river to actively discourage bombing and poisoning.

 

Local youths being trained as Fishing & Nature Guides

This in combination with successful sports days to raise awareness and close dialogue with the villagers have meant that now only 5 years on the bombing and poisoning have completely ceased and the fish stocks and rare and iconic species have recovered and returned.

 

The overall key to the success can only have been giving local people an alternative and incentive to illegal fishing and by giving them back a sense of pride as guardians and stakeholders in their own river.

 

The project is now not just been acclaimed as a rare success in Indian conservation circles, but also received a surprisingly favorable amount of positive media and publicity coverage.

     
 
Community Awareness Raising
Annual Cricket Days held on the stepfields of Balyuli
 
Financial Benefits for Villages through EDC Angling Permit Scheme
60% of all rod fees go straight to the village EDC’s
 
Training of Locals as Guides/Gillies
4 young lads sent to Cauvery for Fishing Gillie training, and more trained as naturalists
 
Employment of Locals by Beat Associations
Vanghat employs 75% from the neighbouring villages and 100% from the local area
 
River Patrolling and Poaching Control
Destructive over-fishing has now been eliminated in just 4 years and fish-stocks have recovered and otters have returned