Seven months ago things looked pretty bleak for the Mangarahara cichlid (Ptychochromis insolitus). The only habitat for this rare Madagascar fish species had been destroyed and the cichlid was down to its last three known individuals, all of which were males. In a last-ditch effort to save the species from extinction, conservationists at the London Zoo Aquarium and Berlin Zoo put out a worldwide call to private aquarium owners, fish collectors and hobbyists in hopes that someone, somewhere, would have a female fish waiting to find a mate.
It appeared certain that the Mangarahara cichlid would soon join the list of extinct species.
But lo and behold, the public plea worked. Last week the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) announced that a group of Mangarahara cichlids has indeed been found. Not only that, they were actually still living in the wild.
Ultimately the team found a total of 18 cichlids, which had hung on for years in a less-than-suitable habitat. “These cichlids have shown remarkable survival skills,” said London Zoon Aquarium curator Brian Zimmerman, “and managed to find one of the very last remaining water sources to live in, but their numbers are tiny and the non-flowing water is not an ideal habitat for them. We’re now doing all we can to protect these remaining fish.” The 18 cichlids have been moved from the tributary to a private aquaculture facility, where they may get a chance to breed and grow their population and hopefully save this species from extinction.
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