Dear Malawi cichlid friend,

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 at least show us one of the devices and after swimming for quite a bit I found another one (photo; with shreds of netting still attached). 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 actually 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. 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). For the Fall season 2009 we have Larry Johnson from Canada who will place ANDs and survey the fishes around the three Maleri islands. Thank you, Larry!

Another problem recently presented itself which is China; the Chinese are buying up all scrap metal in the world, even 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. The visibility was not very good as they had already the first rains of the season. 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!