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Wallago attu

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
ANIMALIA CHORDATA ACTINOPTERYGII SILURIFORMES SILURIDAE

Scientific Name: Wallago attu
Species Authority: (Bloch & Schneider, 1801)
Taxonomic Notes: This species was described from Malabar, southern India (Bloch and Schneider 1801) and is reported to be widely distributed eastwards to the Mekong River drainage and southwards to Java, Indonesia.  The conspecificity of the populations from the Indian subcontinent, Myanmar and Southeast Asia await verification and require further study.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Near Threatened ver 3.1
Year Published: 2010
Date Assessed: 2010-03-24
Assessor(s): Ng, H.H.
Reviewer(s): Britz, R., Molur, S. & Vishwanath, W.
Contributor(s): Molur, S.
Justification:
Wallago attu has undergone significant decline due to overexploitation as a food fish through out its range.  Unfortunately, empirical studies on this are available only from two locations, which is extrapolated across the species' known range.  Although there is taxonomic uncertainty about the species, until it is resolved, the populations currently known as Wallago attu are assessed as Near Threatened.  Further studies on taxonomy and impacts of harvest on populations along with population monitoring are required to reassess the status of the species, which may actually be more threatened than what is currently ascribed.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: Wallago attu occurs all across India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and Java in Indonesia.
Countries:
Native:
Bangladesh; India; Indonesia (Jawa); Myanmar; Nepal; Pakistan; Sri Lanka; Thailand; Viet Nam
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: It is widely distributed and hence has a very large population.  However the species is overfished causing considerable decline in the population in southern West Bengal of 26.7% over four decades from 1960 to 2000 (Mishra et al. 2009).  In another study in northeastern Sunderbans, the species is known to have declined by 99% in four years (1997-2001) (Patra et al. 2005).
Population Trend: Decreasing

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: Inhabits freshwater and tidal waters, in rivers, tanks, channels reservoirs etc.

This catfish inhabits large rivers, tanks and lakes. It is one of the largest, voracious and predatory of the local catfish which thrives well in rivers and tanks also, especially in jheels with gassy magin. The fish prefers muddy tanks subject to periodical flooding from a nullah or river. A tank where this fish exists, usually contains no other good fish. In order to have other fishes in the tanks and reservoirs, it is very necessary to eliminate this fish. It is rather sluggish and stays at the bottom of water in search of food.
Systems: Freshwater

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: This species is heavily utilized as food fish.  Juveniles occasionally are caught and exported as ornamental fish.  It is also targeted by recreational fisherman as it is considered a good sport fish (H.H. Ng pers. comm.).

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Overexploitation of this species for food is a major threat and has resulted in population declines (Mishra et al. 2009; Patra et al. 2005). The effects of other potential anthropogenic threats such as habitat destruction and competition from alien species need to be further ascertained (H.H. Ng pers. comm.).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: The conspecificity of populations from within and outside of the Indian subcontinent requires critical evaluation.  Empirical data on exploitation levels for this species throughout the rest of its range (other than southwestern Bengal) is needed.  The effects of other anthropogenic threats such as pollution and habitat destruction on population declines need to be further ascertained.

Citation: Ng, H.H. 2010. Wallago attu. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 19 September 2014.
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