Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Giant Catfish Terrorized Mekong Villagers


A giant man-eating catfish that has been terrorizing villagers of a region at the border of Burma, Laos and Thailand has finally been caught in the Mekong river and what they found in it’s belly will horrify you.

The beast that was caught by local Khmu tribe fishermen of the local Laotian village of Luang Pang near the convergence of the borders of Burma, Laos and Thailand, revealed to have within it’s stomach the human bone fragments of what experts have estimated to be between 12 and 22 people, children for the most part, a find that left villagers and scientists alike in a state of suspended horror.

“We estimate the beast weighted around 600 pounds or next to 300 kilos since it’s head, tail and fins had been chopped off by local villagers before biologists were aware of the catch and could examine the body” explains biologist Kalaina Maona, from the National University of Laos’s Natural Science Department.

Villagers were horrified when they found within the beast’s belly the remnants of what seemed to be a human baby carcass, recalls local fisherman Kuen Mohk, fighting to hold back his tears.

Dozens of childrens and a handful of elderly people have been reported missing in the past twenty years from the local area, leading some local authorities to claim the beast was behind the wave of disappearances. Rumors of a giant river monster capturing villagers were common amongst elder villagers but thought to be folklore, until recently, by local law enforcement.

“Legends of river creatures preying on local tribesmen have been part of Khmu culture for centuries” explains anthropologist Mary Stewart Hedger from McGill University in Montreal. “This terrible incident somewhat proves these folktales had some dramatic and traumatizing truth behind their origin” she adds. - WNDR

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The Mekong Giant Catfish

Physical Description

The Mekong giant catfish is a species of catfish in the shark catfish family. It is grey to white in colour and is distinguished by the near-total lack of barbels and the absence of teeth.

Size:

Length: 3m
Weight: 300kg

Habitat and Ecology

The Mekong giant catfish is the world's largest freshwater fish and is endemic to the Mekong River. It migrates huge distances to spawn.

Population and Distribution

It is now only found in the mainstream of the Lower Mekong in Myanmar, Lao PDR, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. It used to be relatively common further north along the Thai-Lao PDR border but is now extremely rare in this area.

Scientists estimate that the total number of Mekong giant catfish have decreased by around 90% in the last decade. No population figures are available, and estimates of the decline are based on the fall in the number of specimens caught, Some experts believe there may only be a few hundred Mekong giant catfish surviving.

What are the main threats?

Threats to the Mekong giant catfish, and several other giant migratory fish species in the Mekong, include infrastructure development such as dams that block migration routes and isolate some populations. Without the ability to move up and down rivers, the fish have fewer opportunities to breed.

A further major factor in the decline of the Mekong giant catfish is over-fishing. - WWF

Mekong-The Occluding River: The Tale of a River

The River's Tale: A Year on the Mekong

The Mekong: Biophysical Environment of an International River Basin (Aquatic Ecology)



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