Turkiye hails discovery of endangered leopard barbel fish

Published January 19, 2024
A LEOPARD barbel fish inside an aquarium in Sirnak, Turkiye, after it was spotted 
in Tigris river.—AFP
A LEOPARD barbel fish inside an aquarium in Sirnak, Turkiye, after it was spotted in Tigris river.—AFP

ANKARA: Turkiye on Thursday hailed the unexpected discovery of the leopard barbel fish — listed as one of the most endangered in the world — in the Tigris River.

Environmentalists say the spotted carp-like fish was last seen in the wild more than a decade ago and was feared to have become extinct.

Turkiye’s Agriculture Minister Ibrahim Yumakli called the leopard barbel “one of the 10 most sought-after fish in the world”.

The discovery “is good news for the protection and development of our country’s biodiversity,” he said in a social media statement.

The fish was discovered by a team that included scientists from Turkiye’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan University and members of the Re:wild and SHOAL conservationist programmes.

“There is nothing quite like the feeling of finding that a species that has been pushed to the brink of extinction is still hanging on, despite the odds,” Recep Tayyip Erdogan University associate professor Cuneyt Kaya said.

The fish was once abundant in the rivers of eastern Turkiye and parts of Syria and neighbouring Iran and Iraq. Environmentalists say the fish suffered from pollution and dams set up along the Tigris and Euphrates River system to support local agriculture.

The Swiss-based International Union for Conservation of Nature last month reported that 25 per cent of the world’s freshwater fish species were at risk of extinction.

Published in Dawn, January 19th, 2024

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