Indore Lake Piranha: The tale of a deadly amazon predator fish out of water

Indore Lake Piranha: The tale of a deadly amazon predator fish out of water

A piranha found in Bijasan Lake was the first documented case of a ferocious Amazonian predator in the freshwaters of Indore

From the tragic Ram Navami stepwell collapse to the lumpy skin disease’s devastating trail of cattle morbidity, a string of administrative failures in Indore has laid bare its inability to grapple with anything new — let alone foreign and exotic like a piranha found in Bijasan Lake in January 2016.

Indeed, a piranha, the deadly predator fish native to the Amazon Basin of South America, once lurked in a random Indore lake — until it met its fate like many humans and cows of MP.

According to The Hindustan Times, the fearsome sharp-toothed beast’s discovery in Bijasan Lake was the first documented case of an "omnivorous" freshwater living fish in the city’s water bodies, however short-lived.

How a piranha ended up in this part of the world was any outsider’s guess until Indore Zoo in-charge Uttam Yadav conjectured that fishermen may have unknowingly introduced it to the lake through fish seeds brought from Kolkata for rearing.

The native Amazonian predator grew to be 8-10 kgs before it was handed over by fishermen to MP fisheries department officials, whose indifference — coupled with the absence of conservation protocols — ultimately led to the fish’s death.

“We do not have any provision for conservation of such an aggressive fish. Had we kept it with other fish in our ponds, it would have been dangerous for them. So we released it in a pond near Bangarda." KL Maravi, the then-deputy director of fisheries, told HT .

Indore Lake Piranha: The tale of a deadly amazon predator fish out of water
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A fish out of water

Piranhas are freshwater fish that typically inhabit rivers, streams, lakes and even ponds. While it remains unclear what about the snapping-jawed fish's Bangarda habitat was unsuitable for its survival, inadequacy of food and water quality would most likely have been the lethal stressors.

The seemingly anticlimactic conclusion of the Indore lake piranha saga, however, may not be the lowest point in MP's wildlife conservation history — things could have been worse.

Ecological imbalance

If history is any guide, the introduction of non-native species to an ecosystem can be catastrophic for its biodiversity. Invasive Burmese pythons in Florida are singlehandedly responsible for severe declines in the populations of native species, especially with no natural predators in the USA's Sunshine State.

While Piranhas — for all their pop culture portrayal as ferocious predators — don't generally attack humans, their predatory behaviour can have a cascading effect on the food web outside of their native habitats.

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