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The Stuart M. Grant Cichlid Conservation Fund

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  • The Stuart M. Grant Cichlid Conservation Fund

    The Fund works for the protection of Malawi cichlids. You can support this by making a donartion to the fund via NCS.

    In this thread we are going to post updates over the work.

    Here is the first:

    Dear Friends,
    We have some great news regarding the fund raising for the ANDs. During
    the American Cichlid Association convention in Atlanta about $4000 was
    collected for the SM Grant Fund! The ACA itself donated $1000 and another $1000 check was received from the Greater Chicago Cichlid Associated. The bulk of the donations were raised by the Babes In The Cichlid Hobby (BITCH) who had permanent collection jars with posters attached. Those jars collected about $800, but during the banquet the ladies raised about $1200 during a 15 minutes fund raising razzia.

    From the internet donations we have raised about $700 with the bulk from hobbyists in Sweden! The Scandinavian Cichlid Association is preparing for an even grander fund raising event; I'll keep you posted.

    Alan Pitman, the man behind the realization of the ANDs around the Maleri
    islands, has sent me an update on the sections of the islands' shoreline that are now protected. Please find attached the map of the area with protected coastline marked in black. Last weekend there was another fundraising event, in Malawi: A Day at the Races. Please find attached the poster.
    Thank you all again for your commitments.
    Enjoy your cichlids!
    Ad
    Senast ändrad av Mikael W; 2011-11-11, 22:38.

  • #2
    New update from Ad Konings

    Dear friends of Malawi,

    Alan Pitman, the driving force behind the ANDs, has sent me an e-mail with his comments on an event held near the Maleri islands (A Day at the Races) with the intent to generate funds for the local beach community. I have also received some video clips from Larry Johnson that shows the efforts and result of hauling a beach seine in Lake Malawi. Over the years such seines have been wiping out most of the sand-dwelling cichlid populations in the shallow waters and the result of a 1000ft net is nowadays absolutely not worth the effort, BUT what else is there to do to put a meal on the table?
    Waterlands is helping the beach community by employing more and more of the fishermen who are trying to earn a living by means other than fishing and to give them an alternate form of income. Read all about the "Day at the Races" following this link:

    http://cichlidpress.com/smgfund/smgfund11.html

    Thank you again for your donations and I'll keep you posted of new
    developments.
    Ad
    Senast ändrad av Mikael W; 2011-11-11, 22:38.

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    • #3
      Mail from Ad Konings with some new info on the project:

      Just back from Malawi where, together with 9 other enthusiasts, I saw the ANDs in action! Once you go diving and try to find them without GPS data you´ll have a hard time seeing a single one underwater! Fortunately Alan was there to show us at least one of the devices and after swimming for quite a bit I found another one. Nevertheless, 6 of them are present in the small bay at Nakantenga Island where 7 other SCUBA divers were swimming around.
      Afterwards we visited Alan in his recently completed lodge and discussed the future of Malawi cichlid conservation. Alan said that the ANDs were doing their duty and most local fishermen would not ply their nets within 100 m of the shore of the islands. Nets are costly and the ANDs are very effective. Of the about 150 placed so far two were found removed by cutting (grinding on the rocks) of the steel cable that keeps the device afloat. Some fishermen, however, resorted to fishing with longlines but this should not worry us much regarding the mbuna as they stay close to the rocks and unlikely swim up to the baited hooks on the lines. Nevertheless, when found within the 100 m park zone all fishermen will be chased or arrested.
      Two months ago Pennstate transferred the first $5000 to Waterlands and pipes and steel cable were purchased. Nigel is currently cutting and welding another 100 ANDs which need to be placed soon. Since Alan has a busy schedule he can only work on the ANDs on Saturdays and we thought of a way of helping him place the devices. Therefore we are looking for someone who would devote about three months of his time and assist Alan placing the new ANDs. Alan and I will supply the ticket (not paid for by the fund) and the "intern" will have free stay in Malawi, most of the time in the lodge on Nankoma Island. The only requirement Alan has is that the person be a certified SCUBA diver. There will be dive tanks and compressor available and the intern can dive/snorkel as much as he wants (as long as the ANDs get placed of course).
      Another problem recently presented itself which is China; the Chinese are buying up all scrap metal in the world, even in Malawi, and now it is difficult to find material for anchoring the ANDs. Alan just told me that he secured a number of car wrecks which will be shipped to the lake where Nigel can cut usable pieces that can serve as heavy anchors (too heavy to be lifted out of the water by fishermen standing in their canoes/boats). He is also going to try other ways of anchoring the ANDs.

      I was also pleased to see that there are still thousands of cichlids at Nakantenga. I have included some photos (on web). The visibility was not very good as they had had already the first rains of the season. If we find someone interested in working at the Maleri island he can also inventory the various dive spots so that we get some data on the actual situation. For the moment it looks great. Larry Johnson, who was there a few weeks earlier, even thought he found new species at the Maleris! He hadn´t seen some of the species before which were now evident.

      Another great news is that various clubs around the world and even stores have held events that generated large sums of money. Craig Morfitt of the Bermuda Fry-Angle Aquarium Society wrote:

      The Bermuda Fry-Angle A.S. held our Annual Tropical Fish Show over the past couple of days. On Friday, at our Awards Night, we held a successful charity fish auction thanks to an assortment of fish that were donated by Dan Woodland who was the judge for the show.

      The selected charity for the auction was the Lake Malawi anti-netting initiative. I'm pleased to say that the club has decided to make a donation of $1,500 towards this worthy cause!

      The Scandinavian cichlid association has an ongoing fund-generating program and up to now has donated $782!

      Christophe Barale, who owns the store Paradise Malawi Cichlids in France, held an auction benefiting Malawi cichlids and donated $720 to the fund!

      THANKS TO YOU ALL!! Without your input and generosity many Malawi cichlid species will not be there 20 years from now!

      Enjoy your cichlids!
      Ad
      Plus pics on this page: http://www.cichlidpress.com/smgfund/smgfund15.html
      Senast ändrad av Mikael W; 2011-11-11, 22:40.

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      • #4
        News

        http://cichlidpress.com/smgfund/smgfund16.html
        Senast ändrad av Mikael W; 2011-11-11, 22:41.
        mvh
        Mikael W
        (NCS-medlem sedan 1981)

        Kommentera


        • #5
          News from Ad about the SMG Fund

          Dear friends, This is the first update since a long time of absence. Last year we had a bit of a setback regarding the production and placements of the ANDs, because Alan had to sell his lodge on the Maleri Islands. The ANDs were made ready there and also the rocks of the island served as anchors for the net busters. The good news is that the new owners, Jimmy and Chris Giannakis, are keen to continue Alan’s work and will continue to place the ANDs. I’m very grateful to Alan for all his excellent work and wish him luck with his new venture in southern Malawi.
          Since my visit to the islands last September I wanted to improve some details of the contraptions, i.e. to add better floating material inside the AND because I found some of them that were leak and then became too heavy and sank to the bottom (where they are useless). My first idea was to replace the three plastic water bottles (empty) inside with floating polypropylene balls but I expected to get a large bag of balls for my $100 but that turned out to be a small box. Way too expensive. So now I’m thinking of a PVC tube inside with glued caps on either end and hope that this gives the AND enough buoyancy to keep it up when leak. Stuff in Africa takes time, as you are well aware off. In mid May I’ll be in Malawi and will meet the new owners of the lodge and we will make a “plan de attack”. We have about $12,000 at Pennstate waiting for things to get rolling again in Malawi. Jimmy and Chris also took over the account of the Maleri Island Community Trust which was used to transfer fund to from the US. We are back in business of protecting Malawi cichlids! Thank you again for your concern and your assistance. Enjoy your cichlids!
          Ad
          Senast ändrad av Mikael W; 2011-11-11, 22:41.
          mvh
          Mikael W
          (NCS-medlem sedan 1981)

          Kommentera


          • #6
            Dear defender of Malawi cichlids!
            With the sale of the Maleri Island concession to Dimitri (Jimmy) and Chris Giannakis of Farmers World, Malawi, we were lucky to have engaging new owners who are anxious to protect Malawi fish. About a month ago I was in Malawi and met twice with Dimitri who also had the same idea as I had: to make much more durable ANDs that would function easily 10, perhaps more than 25 years in the lake. When I inspected a few of the ANDs last year at Nakantenga Island I was disappointed to see how quickly they had deteriorated. Worse, local fishermen now were trying their nets again as they noticed that many of the ANDs were either lost or, more likely, had sunk to the bottom where they are ineffective. We decided to construct a new type of AND from thick-walled PVC and stainless steel. PVC is locally available and Dimitri has made already a prototype using a 60 cm long pipe with a diameter of 10 cm. Both ends have glued-on caps and two stainless steel collars. The top collar has 4 hooks, to catch the nets, and the bottom collar has two eyelets to tie the anchor line (4 mm stainless steel cable). The whole construction with up to 10 m anchor cable has plenty of buoyancy so we will not see slowly sinking ANDs anymore. The PVC is blue (one of the two colors available in Malawi) which is impossible to see from a boat when the ANDs are tied up about 5 m below the surface.

            A second lucky strike we got when Leon du Plessis, a dive instructor who runs a dive school in Senga Bay (Wamwai), offered to place the ANDs. He suggested that, instead of hauling rocks from the island, drill holes, tie the AND, and then haul the whole contraption to its final resting site, the holes should be drilled underwater with a pneumatic drill. If everything goes to plan he will have divers who are in need of 50-60 dives for their certification as dive master, 30-40 dives of which are just to build up experience and not part of the training. During such non-training dives he will have these divers drill holes in the rocks and anchor the ANDs at specific places around the island. We found out that you can run a pneumatic drill from a SCUBA tank and the idea is that a diver goes down with a double tank of which one is used to drill 1-2 holes in a rock. A stainless steel lug bolt is inserted in the rock and the anchor cable of the AND attached. I have bought already the drill but will try it out at home if all works underwater before I send it off to Malawi.

            Anxious to do more for the environment Leon also offered to start replanting the sandy area along the east coast of the main island. Over the years beach seines (illegal on the islands of course) have taken out all vegetation. On the other side of the island there are still a few clumps of Vallisneria and from there he is going to replant Bata Bay, as the small bay along the east coast is called. Before putting any new plants in he is going to place some large rocks strategically on the sandy bottom so that nets cannot be moved over the plants. This work he will start first as we are in the process of getting quotes on the stainless steel material for the ANDs in South Africa and then the contraptions have to be welded and put together.

            In cooperation with Dimitri, Leon is planning a minimum-impact dive camp on the main island (the lodge is on Nankoma, the second largest island of the group) near Bata Bay. To have a camp site right there where work is needed will be beneficial to the project and volunteers can also stay at this camp on Maleri Island.

            For almost 18 months the project had been in limbo during which local fishermen realized that fishing was at some places again possible. Since Parks found that something had to be done in the interim they recently installed a team of guards (paid by Parks & Wildlife) with a boat at the islands. We decided to also support these men by providing fuel so that they can continue to make their daily inspection rounds. In this way we are going to protect the cichlids with a two-pronged approach and when Leon will be successful in replanting Bata Bay also that will drastically increase the nursery grounds for many utaka found at the Maleri islands. Pennstate has more than $12,000 ready to be sent to Malawi and these funds will go towards the purchase of the material necessary to make 200 stainless steel ANDs.

            It starts to look good for Malawi cichlids! Expect some photos and video clips this fall!
            Enjoy your cichlids!
            Ad

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            • #7
              Update from Ad

              Dear friend of Malawi cichlids!

              This is an update on the Stuart M. Grant Cichlid Conservation Fund. You can read this online which has also two video clips embedded by going to http://cichlidpress.com/smgfund/smgfund19.html

              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 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.

              A propos the placing of the ANDs, I received great news from Leon du Plessis, who has now been established (with his wife Ingrid) as manager of the lodge on Nankoma Island, that he was able to drill two holes in a rock underwater with a single SCUBA tank with the pneumatic drills that I had sent last summer. See a little video clip online. He now also has the right accommodation for those of you who want to learn to SCUBA dive or who want to become master diver. Those in the latter group are also involved in helping Leon to place the ANDs. In August 2011 Pennstate transferred about $6000 from our fund to South Africa to purchase the first batch of
              stainless steel (good for 200 ANDs) which has arrived in Malawi. Dimitri is now preparing the new design ANDs which will soon be available to be employed in the lake.

              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 August 2010 there were only a few specimens to be seen. The large boulders you see in the video clip posted online used to be covered with hundreds of P. saulosi but in 2010 there were only three individuals on this rock and many boulders had none at all.

              The program I envision should consist of the following stages:

              1. 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.

              2. 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.

              3. 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.

              4. Breeding groups are set up in Malawi to prevent legal problems when importing live fish back into Malawi.

              5. 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.”

              Without your input and generosity many Malawi cichlid species will not be there 20 years from now.

              Enjoy your cichlids!

              Ad



              --

              Ad Konings
              Cichlid Press
              P.O. Box 13608
              El Paso, TX 79913
              www.cichlidpress.com // www.elpasodesert.com
              Editor of www.cichlidae.com
              Senast ändrad av Mikael W; 2011-11-11, 22:42.
              mvh
              Mikael W
              (NCS-medlem sedan 1981)

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