Field biologists from the EGREE Foundation have spotted ‘Pondicherry shark’, an endangered species protected under the provisions of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, near the Kumbhabhishekam landing point in the city.
This is for the third time they are spotted in the East Godavari River Estuarine Ecosystem region after 2007 and 2016. Scientifically known as Carcharhinus hemiodon , it belongs to the Carcharhinidae family with a growth of 3.3 feet.
Field biologists Mahesh Babu and Ganesh Pallela, during their routine survey, spotted it on Saturday and Sunday and sent the details to Anil Mohapatra, scientist from the Zoological Survey of India, for confirmation. They got a positive response. Zoologists have been trying to trace it in the other parts of the country since 1979.
Known as ‘Pala Sora’ in the local parlance, the Pondicherry Shark is on the verge of extinction even according to the conventional fishermen. They, however, are unaware of its conservation status which is on a par with the tiger. “The two we have found are of the length of 1.5 feet and 2.4 feet respectively and they are not fully grown. We doubt weather the fisher folks are selling the fish whenever they trap it,” they say.
The only scientific information available about the species comes from 20 specimens collected from fish markets across the Indo-Pacific region. It is identified by its black tips of dorsal, pectoral and Tai fins. The front teeth are distinctly serrated at the base and smooth at the tip.
Divisional Forest Officer (Wildlife) Anant Shankar, also the additional CEO of the EGREE Foundation, says the department in association with the foundation is working with the fishing communities and various line departments in bringing down the trade in such species. “Conservation of such species is only possible through community mobilisation and stewardship,” he says.