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India – Northeast, February 2009

 

Image During Heiko Bleher’s recent expedition to the northeast of India, together with Sanjay Kumar Das, Peter Guennel and Natasha Khardina, they researched 17 aquatic habitats throughout the region – even in remote Nagaland and found several possibly new species and recorded 75 different ones. Below only a few photos of this amazing and unique trip...

 

 

 

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The mighty Brahmaputra was for millenniums the transport “road” for all goods and is it still today for passengers and bamboo


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During the dry period natives from Bangladesh come up the Brahmaputra and harvest in the bright sun while their cow is protected from the sun and from mosquitoes

 

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The rent-a-car company wanted to know exactly where we wanted to go on our 2500 km track

 
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Some species from location 15, even an fantastic neon-striped Danio (lower), very colourful Badis sp. and the amazing catfish, Olyra longicauda, as well as interesting snails, shrimps and loaches…

 

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...and at the location 5 Heiko found a miniature Dario sp. – hardly 10 mm in TL –, probably new, and a beautiful loach


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In most places in the north-eastern region water has to be hauled from a far every day, also washing is done at the same source…

 

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…and by far most rivers were dry, or drying up, and the natives searched for the last fishes in the muddy river bed, like here in the Cachar province, Mastacembelus sp.,

Channa sp. and Colisa sp., to eat

 

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In some, but only very few places – far away of the main track – Heiko was able to find still untouched and unspoiled riverbeds in the over-populated Indian Sub-Continent. Nature without any human trace or sign…


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...but most of the riverbeds had been (or are) altered for construction sites, building of new roads, tunnels, or used as source of construction material – such as stones, gravel and sand. And other aquatic habitats…


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…have to make space for rice plantations or cattle fields and in other places the remaining bushes are set on fire during the dry season by man – even at night


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To enter Nagaland was a very big problem – only with a special RAP (Restricted Area Permit) which can only be released in India’s capital New Delhi (and this takes a long time, if one can get it at all…)


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In Nagaland there is very littel traffic and hardly roads along the border with Myanmar


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The natives of Nagaland are Christians and it is the only Indian province with 100% Christianity. They look completely different from all other Indian ethnic groups – more like some South American native tribes people – and although they are no longer head-hunters (but were until the last century), they still celebrate their old traditions every year like here in Meluri, on February 27, 2009. And inside their homes, the kitchen looks like being unchanged for centuries…


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In the Titzii river (flowing to Myanmar, near its border) Heiko found several beautiful species, like this Puntius cf. meingangbii and an amazing colourful Danio cf. rerio – but much more will be seen in a future article about this worldwide unique and remote Nagaland