The goonch catfish, scientifically known as Bagarius yarrelli, is a species of catfish found in the rivers of South Asia, particularly in the Ganges, Brahmaputra, and Indus river basins. It is also known by other names such as giant devil catfish or devil catfish.
Physical appearance: Goonch catfish are known for their large size and distinctive appearance. They can grow up to considerable lengths, with some individuals reaching over six feet (two meters) and weighing more than 150 kilograms (330 pounds). Their body is elongated and muscular, covered in thick, mottled gray or brown skin. They have a flattened head with a wide mouth containing rows of sharp teeth.
Habitat and behavior: Goonch catfish are primarily freshwater inhabitants and are found in large rivers and deep pools with moderate to fast-flowing currents. They prefer areas with rocks, boulders, and submerged logs, where they can hide and ambush their prey. They are most commonly found in India, Nepal, and Pakistan.
Diet: These catfish are voracious predators and have a diverse diet. They are known to be opportunistic feeders, preying on a variety of aquatic animals such as smaller fish, crustaceans, frogs, and even birds and small mammals. There have been reports of goonch catfish attacking humans, although such incidents are rare.
Reproduction: Goonch catfish are known to be migratory breeders. During the breeding season, which typically occurs during the monsoon months, males construct nests in rocky crevices or holes to attract females for spawning. The female lays a large number of eggs, and both parents guard the nest until the eggs hatch.
Conservation status: The goonch catfish population is currently facing threats due to overfishing, habitat degradation, and pollution in its native rivers. It is listed as "Near Threatened" on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List. Conservation efforts are necessary to protect their habitat and ensure sustainable fishing practices.
Noteworthy mentions: The goonch catfish gained international attention through a documentary called "Goonch: The Killer Catfish" that aired on Animal Planet. The documentary highlighted large catfish in the Kali River, which were reported to have attacked and killed humans. However, it's important to note that such incidents are extremely rare and not representative of the behavior of the species as a whole.