Why the Kelah
This sport ﬁsh is seen by many Malaysian anglers as the most supreme sport ﬁsh in our rivers. It is a ﬁsh unique to our country and the region, and it represents the ultimate challenge to be pursued in beautiful natural surroundings. Now, both the ﬁsh and its beautiful environment is under threat.
Thus, the approach of KAGUM is to help Malaysia save our rivers and their ﬁshes, with particular focus on the kelah.
|Scientific name||Tor tambroides; Tor tambra|
|English name||Malaysian Red Mahseer; Thai Red Mahseer; Greater Brook Carp|
|Local names||Kelah (Peninsular Malaysia), Empurau/Semah (Sarawak), Pelian (Sabah)|
|Salient features||Large strong head, thick lips with median lobe lower lip. Body cylindrical with slight compression; large scales. Colour ranges from pale to bright red. Fins range from pink to red to blue. Large forked tail and rudder-like anal fin.|
|Distribution||Indian, Myanmar, Thailand, Borneo, Sumatra.|
|Habitat||Medium to large rivers with rocky, sandy and leafy bottom. Prefers highly oxygenated water and dark environment.|
|Habits||Stations itself in prime lies where its needs of security, shelter and food it readily served. May forage in shallow areas or close to rapids when it is assured of security. A very shy fish.|
|Diet||Jungle fruits, insects, crustaceans. When mature, it may forage on small baitfish.|
If you were to be a kelah today, these are the probable scenarios you would have to face in your now-shortened life:
• Your home of deep, dark pool laced with rocks and sunken timber would now be covered with a thick layer of silt, since the clearing of vast tracts of forest would have resulted run-off due to rains.
• Your spawned eggs would not hatch. The eggs would be smothered by the silt, depriving them of the much-needed oxygen.
• You face on a daily basis a plethora of nets and humans with bombs, poisons, harpoons, and electrodes in their quest for a nice supper or a fast buck.
• You choke on the chemicals from remote factories and run-offs from agricultural activities.
• Your river gets straightened, the river becomes too fast and too shallow for you to survive. It’s like living on a walkalator.
With these scenarios, the kelah and other prime ﬁshes like the temoleh, kelesa, kerai and tengas are doomed and heading for extinction.