Dear Malawi cichlid friend,
It has been some time now since I sent an update on our progress in saving Malawi cichlids. One of the reasons is that Leon du Plessis is still totally occupied with the construction of the lodge on Nankoma Island (check out photos of it at https://www.facebook.com/BlueZebraIslandLodge), and has not yet had an opportunity to place the new ANDs. Whenever I’ll receive a picture or video of the placed ANDs I’ll post it.
But we are trying to stop illegal fishing in park waters in several ways and Dimitri Giannakis recently sent me an update of the progress on the other fronts. These were his points:
1. The diesel engine for the guards’ boat has arrived safely and is in its box on the island. I have paid import duty and local freight. Our initial plan of fitting it into our smaller 6 m boat has not worked out as the boatyard advised us that the boat’s original design does not allow for this. Now we have two options, one to bring in a suitable fiber-glass boat from South Africa (approx. cost $7 – 8,000) or two, to buy a custom-built wooden boat made locally (cost $6 – 8,000). We are exploring both options. It is important that we have this very efficient engine on patrol in the near future as it will save us money in the long run.
2. Given that we need to find a suitable boat for the Yanmar diesel engine, we are providing Lake Malawi National Parks with 100L of petrol each month and food rations for the guards. Parks has a very active team that is now patrolling the island once per week and the guards are often camped out on the island. With the price of fuel at $2 per litre we spent more than $300/month on this exercise and have been doing so for over a year.
3. The ANDs, 200 of these have been assembled at our cost (we purchased the PVC pipes and paid duty to clear the stainless steel), are now waiting for Leon to start up his dive centre and work in a placement program. Some of the sponsors may want to be involved in this exercise!
4. We have engaged a legal firm, William Faulkner, to set up "The Lake Malawi Conservation Trust" of which we hope that Parks, Ad Konings, and I will be trustees. I am told the documents will be ready soon.
5. We have set up a Foreign Denomination Account (US$ account) for the trust, once established, to hold funds and receive donations.
You can see that Dimitri is very committed to the cause and I am very grateful for his efforts, time, and capital he has invested in the preservation of Lake Malawi Park.
On yet another front, the Stuart Grant Fund has supported David Nkhwazi (director of Stuart M. Grant Ltd) by sending $5000 to furnish the breeding of two Malawi cichlids that are on the brink of extinction, i.e. Pseudotropheus saulosi and Melanochromis chipokae. David recently sent me some photos of the temporary breeding tanks which you can see here. David is currently installing new shade netting over two large vats that will be the long-term breeding area for these two species. In September we hope to have a sufficient number of P. saulosi juveniles to be released at Taiwanee Reef.
A week ago I was in Winnipeg, Canada (yes, it was cold!), and saw how Spencer Jack and Chris Biggs had started their Malawi Goat Fund (MGF), collecting funds to save Malawi cichlids in an unusual way. Their motto, “Save Our Fish, Eat a Goat”, is not only hilarious but also to the point: from the proceeds of their Dead Fish Order meetings and other fishy activities they will purchase goats in Malawi (through a Canadian Certified Charity) and give them to impoverished families around the lake providing them an alternative to fish. Please see their goat logo (available on t-shirts) here.
I would like to wrap up this update by thanking Steve Edie of the Missouri Aquarium Society, who regularly requests aquarium clubs to write “Stuart Grant Fund” on his travel reimbursement checks—thanks Steve!
Thank you all for your continued support. Enjoy your Malawi cichlids!