Bagarius yarrelli, also known as the giant devil catfish or goonch, is a very large species of catfish in the genus Bagarius found in rivers in the Indian subcontinent. The species reaches up to 2 m (6.6 ft) in length. It may be synonymous with B. bagarius.
The species is known by many names throughout its range in the Indian subcontinent. It is known as the goonch in Hindi and Punjabi, baghar or baghair in Bengali and Bihari (these names being the origin of the genus name Bagarius), gauns in Rajasthani, gorua (গৰুৱা) and baghmas (বাঘমাছ) in Assamese and bodh in Chhattisgarhi.
The species is frequently taxonomically confused with B. bagarius. B. bagarius has – perhaps in error – been reported as reaching the same size as B. yarrelli, while others consider B. bagarius to be a dwarf species that only reaches about 20 cm (7.9 in). A study published in 2021 found B. yarrelli to be a junior synonym of B. bagarius, likely necessitating a merge of B. yarrelli into B. bagarius.
Distribution and habitat
It is found in large rivers in the Indian Subcontinent, including rivers with fast current, particularly in deeper pools near faster current, but never in small streams. It is found in the Indus and Ganges basins as well as most of southern India east of the Western Ghats. Two other populations were also formerly thought to exist in Southeast Asia (one population in the Mekong-Chao Phraya basin and the other from the Xe Bang Fai of Laos south to Indonesia), but a 2021 study found the former to represent a new species B. vegrandis, and the latter to represent the distinct species B. lica, previously synonymized with B. yarrelli.
While still abundant, the species is considered vulnerable on the IUCN Red List due to excessive, unsustainable overharvesting of the species. Hydroelectric projects such as those on the Indravati River may affect the habitat of the species and adversely impact it.
In Chhattisgarh, the species is worshipped by tribal communities such as the Murias and Gonds, and is popularly referred to as the "shark of the Bastar". There have been efforts to name it the official state fish of Chhattisgarh.
- Ng, H.H. (2020). "Bagarius yarrelli". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2020: e.T166503A60588519. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2020-2.RLTS.T166503A60588519.en. Retrieved 20 November 2021.
- Froese, Rainer; Pauly, Daniel (eds.) (2012). "Bagarius yarrelli" in FishBase. January 2012 version.
- Ng, Heok Hee; Kottelat, Maurice (2021-02-04). "Description of Bagarius vegrandis , a new species of sisorid catfish from Indochina (Actinopterygii: Siluriformes), with notes on the identity of Bagarius bagarius". Zootaxa. 4926 (1): 134–146. doi:10.11646/zootaxa.4926.1.9. ISSN 1175-5334.
- "Hydropower project on the Indravati puts the iconic bodh fish in danger". Mongabay-India. 2020-10-09. Retrieved 2021-02-07.
- Froese, Rainer; Pauly, Daniel (eds.) (2012). "Bagarius bagarius" in FishBase. January 2012 version.
- Singapore), Heok Hee Ng (c/o National University of (2019-06-06). "IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: Bagarius yarrelli". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Retrieved 2021-02-07.
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