Article by Ad Konings

View previous topic View next topic Go down

Article by Ad Konings

Post by football mom on Wed Nov 09, 2011 8:58 am

(permission was granted to re-post)

By Ad Konings:

2011-11 - Folks …it’s payback time

At the FOTAS/CARES meeting (Nov. 4-6, 2011) in San Antonio, Texas, I was dumbfounded and excited by Melanie Stiassny’s presentation of her work on the Congo River. She discussed mainly the fish fauna of the Lower Congo, a stretch of a little more than 200 km but in which she found already 332 different species of fish of which more than 90 are endemic to this part of the mighty Congo! A staggering number if you compare that with other rivers in Africa. It also drove home the message that we still know so little about the biodiversity of vast areas of Africa. And that at a time when governments, with their eyes on the money, make broad-ranging decisions on the future of these areas without knowing what is really at stake. Of course, the quality of life and the sustainability of the area’s biodiversity rarely play a role in such decision making. This was also evident in Paul Loiselle’s presentation on the state of fish diversity on a global scale and how it suffers from industrialization and burgeoning human encroachment on freshwater habitats.

While I presented the latest developments of the Anti-Netting Devices (ANDs) in Lake Malawi National Park, Rick Borstein of the Greater Chicago Cichlid Association, asked what the total sum is that is needed to protect the Maleri Islands and parts of the Cape Maclear area with ANDs. I didn’t have the answer ready, but with the price of the new ANDs at about $50 each and estimating that about 2000 of these are needed to cover the shorelines of the various islands, I offered the sum of $100,000. This is far from an exorbitant amount, and afterwards Lawrence Kent of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, suggested that I should be able to write a grant application and submit it to one of the big environmental organizations, because $100,000 is considered small change by his and many other organizations. I thought about his suggestion, but I have other factors to contemplate in our quest to save the Malawi cichlids. First of all, I’m 100% sure that we aquarists can come up with this amount and that we are in time to protect the majority of the Malawi species that are endemic to park waters. Secondly, imagine the immense satisfaction by all who have participated in the program ten years from now when all is set and done, and when we are enjoying the fruits of our efforts. Just consider the Babes In The Cichlid Hobby (fondly translated by my friend Marco Arroyo as “Las Putas”), Caroline Estes, Pam Chin, and Pam Marsh, who have worked very hard at every convention, traveling on their own dime, auctioning fish paraphernalia that they have begged, stolen (hope not), or borrowed from their friends, and entertaining us as well. In the last four years they were able, besides all the other needed causes they work for, to donate $6,500 to the fund! Imagine their satisfaction when they see that all is well in the Lake Malawi National Park. I don’t want to steal their and your happiness by a possible “take over” of big money. The placing of the ANDs is a slow process and I’m confident that we can keep pace with donations and spending costs.

Critics of CARES and of any other captive breeding programs uphold the notion that a species’ genetic diversity is quickly lost because of inbreeding and can never replace the lost diversity of the original population, and also that reintroduction of captive-raised fish into the original habitat has never been achieved successfully. Well, the last statement is incorrect as successful fish reintroductions have been completed in Europe as well as in the US. I’m not aware of any such efforts with cichlids but I don’t see any problem in that. The fact that wild caught cichlids can quickly adapt to the artificial environment of aquaria, the reverse should pose no problem either. We have, unfortunately, proof of the cichlids’ ability to introduction in Lake Malawi (and also in Lake Tanganyika) where over the years cichlids have been introduced at various places by collectors of ornamental fish.

Many rock-dwelling cichlids stay their entire lives within hundred meters of their place of birth and in principle form relatively small breeding groups within the population. The genetic diversity of such local groups is not necessarily larger than that of a captive breeding group. For several of the species kept in captive breeding programs their genetic diversity is millions of times higher than that of their wild counterparts because there are no wild counterparts; these species are extinct in the wild! Reintroduction may not copy exactly the genetic makeup of the original population, but it is a lot closer to the real thing than no fish at all.

We have a chance to prove that this works and we may even be able to involve Malawian students in the project. Along with the tremendous over-fishing and species loss that is taking place in Lake Malawi, the demise of a few cichlid species is to blame to unscrupulous collectors; case in point: Pseudotropheus saulosi. This species is endemic to Taiwanee Reef which is a large reef, but most of it is in water deeper than 80 meters. The area where P. saulosi lives, where they find the algae they feed on, is rather small, like the size of a quarter football field. It doesn’t need a lot of imagination to see that the population of any endemic cichlid at the reef is vulnerable to over-fishing. Till about ten years ago P. saulosi occurred in sometimes large schools of hundreds of individuals that wandered through the habitat foraging from the biocover on the rocks. During the last decade several collectors of ornamental fish have concentrated on catching large numbers of P. saulosi and as a result the species is becoming scarce. When I visited the reef in September 2010 there were only a few specimens to be seen.

The program I envision should consist of the following stages:

Local government should forbid the collection of any rock-dwelling cichlid (P. saulosi and Protomelas sp. ‘steveni taiwan’) at Taiwanee Reef. This does not affect the local fishermen who collect utaka in the area. I also understand that there would hardly be any enforcement possible apart from inspecting what fishes are exported from Malawi.
A survey of the extant population of P. saulosi in the upper 20 meters of the reef (they are very rare in deeper areas) should indicate how many can be collected for a captive breeding program. Since I don’t expect a large genetic diversity 25 females would be sufficient to guarantee a say 95% of the existing diversity.
A small fin clip of the live fishes (breeders) would be taken (anal fin of females and tip dorsal fin of males) and the DNA analyzed to get an idea of the diversity. The DNA typing can be done abroad.
Breeding groups are set up in Malawi to prevent legal problems when importing live fish back into Malawi.
After one/two years, reintroductions can take place and monitored every year thereafter. If, however, the fishing ban was effective, the species could have (partly) recovered on their own account and reintroduction would not be necessary.
This would be a simple project that shouldn’t cost much money to complete. It would certainly emphasize the importance of the work others do by maintaining endangered species in captivity. In the case of P. saulosi if we wait any longer we may need to reintroduce the aquarium strains.

The FOTAS/CARES convention made one thing clear and that is that action is needed now, when there are still opportunities. After all the years we have enjoyed cichlids, Paul Loiselle said it best: “Folks …it’s payback time.”

© Copyright 2011 Ad Konings, all rights reservedhttp://www.carespreservation.com/
http://www.africancichlids.net




football mom

Posts : 975
Join date : 2009-07-08
Location : Portland, Texas

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: Article by Ad Konings

Post by Aura on Wed Nov 09, 2011 12:22 pm

Thanks for posting the article. I'm glad they're still working on those ANDs and hope they are working well. Do they have anything set up for hobbyists to donate a little to help fund the devices?

That's sad about the saulosi -- I had no idea.
avatar
Aura
Admin

Posts : 2580
Join date : 2009-08-14
Location : WA

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: Article by Ad Konings

Post by theswede on Wed Nov 09, 2011 2:43 pm

Aura wrote:Do they have anything set up for hobbyists to donate a little to help fund the devices?

That´s the Stuart M. Grant Cichlid Conservation fund.

http://www.cichlidpress.com/smgfund/smg-donate.html
avatar
theswede

Posts : 2120
Join date : 2009-11-18
Age : 49
Location : Timrå, Sweden

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: Article by Ad Konings

Post by Aura on Wed Nov 09, 2011 3:29 pm

I knew I had seen something somewhere... thanks!
avatar
Aura
Admin

Posts : 2580
Join date : 2009-08-14
Location : WA

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: Article by Ad Konings

Post by football mom on Thu Nov 10, 2011 11:10 am

The estimated cost to repair/replace/construct new AND's is about $10,000, but as it take time to construct them, that sum doesn't need to be available all at once, so according to Mr. Konings, that amount should be a reachable goal over time.

football mom

Posts : 975
Join date : 2009-07-08
Location : Portland, Texas

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: Article by Ad Konings

Post by Aura on Wed Feb 08, 2012 6:41 pm

Latest update: http://cichlidpress.com/smgfund/smgfund20.html
avatar
Aura
Admin

Posts : 2580
Join date : 2009-08-14
Location : WA

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: Article by Ad Konings

Post by theswede on Thu Feb 09, 2012 2:31 am

Sad that Melanochromis chipokae has become endangered. I wonder how long it will take before demasoni are endangered as well. Only at one location and everyone wants large groups of that species. I´ve started a tradition to donate to this fund every december.
avatar
theswede

Posts : 2120
Join date : 2009-11-18
Age : 49
Location : Timrå, Sweden

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: Article by Ad Konings

Post by Larry Johnson on Fri Dec 14, 2012 12:44 pm

I am happy to report that the first of many Ps.saulosi are expected to rejoin the reef on the next 2013 Lake Malawi Safaris.
This fish is being bred at the Stuart Grant compound in one of their large ponds.
This endevor is directly due to the many hobbyists, clubs and Ad who have created the funds through the Stuart M. Grant Conservation Fund.

Cheers,Larry
avatar
Larry Johnson

Posts : 73
Join date : 2010-01-17
Location : Mount Hope,ON

View user profile http://www.malawicichlidimports.ca/

Back to top Go down

Re: Article by Ad Konings

Post by theswede on Fri Dec 14, 2012 3:23 pm

Larry Johnson wrote:I am happy to report that the first of many Ps.saulosi are expected to rejoin the reef on the next 2013 Lake Malawi Safaris.
This fish is being bred at the Stuart Grant compound in one of their large ponds.
This endevor is directly due to the many hobbyists, clubs and Ad who have created the funds through the Stuart M. Grant Conservation Fund.

Cheers,Larry


That´s great news! thumbs up
avatar
theswede

Posts : 2120
Join date : 2009-11-18
Age : 49
Location : Timrå, Sweden

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: Article by Ad Konings

Post by Aura on Tue Dec 18, 2012 7:42 pm

Awesome news. cheers
avatar
Aura
Admin

Posts : 2580
Join date : 2009-08-14
Location : WA

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: Article by Ad Konings

Post by Sponsored content


Sponsored content


Back to top Go down

View previous topic View next topic Back to top

- Similar topics

 
Permissions in this forum:
You cannot reply to topics in this forum