Dear Cichlid Friends,

It has been two months since I returned from Africa (Tanzania and Malawi). While there I was able to visit Nankoma Island and admire the work that Leon and his wife Ingrid had accomplished (with the aid of sometimes up to 200 local workers). The whole lodge complex should be finished by mid September after which Leon will start organizing his dive school and place the 200 new ANDs that have been ready for a while. It had been a huge task to build a kind of double lodge complex; one part for the luxury traveler and another for the dive school students. If you know someone who would be interested in obtaining a dive master certification and at the same time save the Malawi cichlids from overfishing, Camp Rock, the name of the new dive school, is the perfect place. For more information on the various programs see this website: Wamwai Adventures or contact Leon at leondup(at)

walkway in harbor

I know that the diesel engine for the guards’ boat has arrived in Malawi and I had hoped to show you a photo, but Dimitri has been too much occupied with the many changes in Malawi after its president died suddenly, the free-floating Malawi Kwacha, and the global economic downturn. Since Leon and Ingrid have been on the island during the last nine months the illegal fishing has been drastically reduced. Last year the park guards made many arrests but during the last months of their patrols very few arrests have been made. As soon as the new diesel engine has been installed in their boat they can triple their frequency of patrols. African pace is slow but we are getting there!

Guards boat at right

On the donations side of the funds I have some excellent news: the BITCHes made a ton of money at the ACA convention in Indianapolis (great convention!) and donated a whopping $2500 to the funds! A good friend of mine, Dick Au, almost matched that with his personal gift to the fund! Thank you very much ladies, Dick! Many thanks to Andy Hudson of the Milwaukee Aquarium Society who's club launched in May 2012, together with Aqueon, a fund raiser to collect money for the Stuart M. Grant Cichlid Conservation Fund. When all the auctions had completed the grand total collected amounted to $1465.00! Thank you very much!

There is some other great news. During the ACA convention Paul Loiselle suggested to me to ask Stuart Grant Ltd at Kambiri Point to breed the few species that we found being threatened by extinction due to overfishing by the ornamental fish trade, and that I should perhaps apply for a grant from the Paul Loiselle Conservation fund to cover most or all of the expenses. This was a great idea and one which David Nkhwazi, Stuart Grant’s stepson and director of the station, had been playing with since he had read that some of the popular species were at risk. After contacting him, he immediately agreed to set aside some of the holding facility and start breeding Pseudotropheus saulosi and Melanochromis chipokae. This is huge! There will be no need to get permits to export and then again import these species at risk and the breeding will be done by experts in the field. Kind of ironic that Stuart Grant Ltd is going to restore some of the species made nearly extinct by their “fly-by-night” foreign competitors. I just received an e-mail from David in which he specifies what he would need for food, shade netting, labor, etc. and it would take about $5000 for a year, most of it for food and shade netting that has to be imported from South Africa.

The last note is from Lake Tanganyika. While I was in Tanzania on a 10-day dive tour along the eastern shore of the lake, Chris Horsfall (from Lakeshore Lodge fame) explained to me that the Tanzanian government had recently implemented stricter rules for the local fishermen. The major impact was on the kapenta/ndaga fishermen who attract fish with lights at night who now have to stay at least 2 kilometers offshore. Also beach seines are now strictly forbidden in Tanzania. At the first offense to any of these new rules, the fisherman gets a warning but at the second his boats, nets and further equipment will be confiscated and burned! And the fisherman put in jail for up to 5 years! Chris found three burnt fishermen’s boats at Mabilibili which were from those that failed to obey the new restrictions. So it looked like the new rules were enforced, but Chris recently got in a pickle with the local government. Since the laws were changed he and his wife Louise have been the recipients of plenty of animosity from fishermen on Kerenge Island (just across from their lodge). They felt that the Lakeshore Lodge being there had instituted the new fishing laws and were therefore upset with Chris and Louise, instead of with Fisheries. Chris and Louise and the Lakeshore Lodge have been publicized in the national press as the bad guys, with seriously fictitious, trumped up allegations. Recently they had two lengthy meetings with the new District Commissioner to defend themselves. Then Chris had a long meeting with the Diwani (village councilor), who advised him to turn a blind eye to the now ever-increasing illegal fishing that has started again, for concern of actions taken against them by the local fishermen as retribution. Now Chris and Louise are trying to sort things out with the villagers, with the help of Fisheries.

So, some mixed news from the conservation front of Lake Tanganyika cichlids. Of course we still found beach seines being employed in remote places along the Tanzanian shore of the lake, but near bigger villages (where the most damage is done) hopefully Fisheries will be able to enforce the new legislation.

Illegal beach seine TZ
Before I finish this update I’d like to acknowledge Christian Alfredsson of the Scandinavian Cichlid Association, who has been a very faithful donor for the past three years donating about every other month to our cause. Thank you Christian!

THANKS TO YOU ALL!! Without your input and generosity many Malawi cichlid species would have no future existence.