Zoo Negara Reptile House and Veterinary Department supervisor Jamsari Mohamad said the fish, considered the dominant species in the lake, were becoming increasingly unmanageable and were endangering the bird population in the zoo.
He said the fish attacked in the morning and afternoon, with the birds sustaining injuries in the feet and neck, while some had also been reported dead.
It was only three years ago that the zoo authorities found out that the ikan toman had been attacking the birds.
According to Jamsari, the zoo staff now net the ikan toman every two or three months to control the population, but the fish reproduce very quickly.
He said zoo keepers fed the birds – which include painted storks, white swans, pink black pelicans, little green herons, black-crowned herons, black-headed ibises, Egyptian geese and black swans – with 60kg of ikan kembung (black mackerel) twice daily.
“But it is believed that only about 10kg of the food is left each time for the 300 plus birds as the giant snakehead fish will gobble up everything before they can start eating,” he added.
He said an aquarium was under construction at the zoo and the fish would be one of the main attractions once it opens around the middle of the year.
“We have been keeping the fish caught in the lake for the aquarium for one year now and have more than 10 fish in our collection,” he noted.
Jamsari said the zoo had also been organising annual fishing competitions since 2004 to reduce the lake's ikan toman population.
This year, the competition will be held from 8am to 2pm on April 2.
It is limited to 300 participants.
The registration fee is RM70.
Those interested can call 03-4108 3422/7/8, or Zariatul Zita (012-926 3508), Junaidi (019-371 2195), Ahmad (012-351 9589) or Mazrul (013-623 6319).
~Source : The Star, Saturday 25 March 2006, by