The people living in the villages of Drosh, Kalkatak and Jughoor along the river said that they saw the dead fish floating above the water which was a rare occurrence for them which indicated the outbreak of a disease among the fish.
Sardar Abdur Rahman of Drosh told Dawn that he felt aghast when he noticed a large number of dead fish floating on the water near his house when he was searching for the body of a boy who had drowned in the river.
He said the people never saw in their entire lives such a large number of dead fish in the river.
Mr Rahman said dead fish was found in the downstream villages of Jinjirate, Kalakatak, Mirkhani, Damil, Kauti and Arandu.
He said he had started observing the dead fish on a daily basis and found it continued for months till the advent of winter season.
When contacted, assistant director of fisheries Amin Jan confirmed the prevalence of the disease and said the department had assembled the samples of infected fish from different points in the river from Shoghore to Arandu.
He said the symptoms of the infected fish were lethargy, external hemorrhage at mouth, ventral and near pelvic fins while infected fish tended to rest at banks where the water current was less severe.
Mr Jan said there were 22 local species of fish found in Chitral River, and the specie affected by the disease was known as snow trout.
The fisheries official said it was not a species of trout but snow trout was its pseudo name which had the largest population density in the Chitral River.
The disease may have rendered the species of fish into minority or completed annihilated it.
He said amazingly all the other species of fish were totally safe from the disease, which cannot be given a specific name as it is the combination of symptoms of different known diseases of fish.
Mr Jan said he had approached the higher authorities of his department with the proposal of sending teams of specialists to Chitral to collect samples of different parameters of the environment in the affected areas.
Published in Dawn, November 28th, 2017