Dear Malawi cichlid friend,
There is good news from several fronts where we are trying to protect Malawi cichlids. You all remember the 32 juvenile P. saulosi we released at Taiwanee Reef last September and why there were so few (see previous update). The good news is that since then David Nkhwazi of Stuart Grant Ltd. managed to breed about 500 new P. saulosi that are ready to be reintroduced at Taiwanee Reef. He also managed to collect some breeding stock of Melanochromis chipokae and he has already about 100 juveniles to be reintroduced at Chidunga Rocks. Thank you, David!! At the moment we are looking for a SCUBA diver who could video the release of these fish at one or both sites. If necessary Iíll provide a small GoPro video camera but Iím not aware of any visitor going to Malawi soon. If you know of anyone interested to do this for us, please let me know.
ANDs and markers
Recently I received an email from Estelle and Matt at the Blue Zebra Island Lodge that they started to place floaters that will demarcate clearly the 100 meter no fishing zone around the Maleri islands. By doing so there will be no further disputes between the fishermen and park guards about where exactly the boundary is. Matt is using the pneumatic drill and the compressed air in a dive tank to drill holes in the rocks underwater. The floaters consist of discarded gas tanks that have been modified so that they cannot be used as cooking pots or for any other household purpose. They painted LMNP on top of them in yellow as required by the park. They did this together with the park rangers and have already placed at least 10 floaters. They intend to complete this demarcation before they will place the ANDs. Thanks Matt & Estelle!!
Other news items that Estelle mentioned:
- There is a new patrol captain, Charles, and he is really willing to fight against poachers. We have changed our way of patrolling and he will come more often and for shorter periods on unexpected visits (so that fishermen cannot be advised).
- Last but not least: the small camping hut for the park rangers has been built on the largest island (Maleri).
Unfortunately fishermen are still around and are now coming with bigger boats and nets. We are trying to take pictures of the boats when we see them, file the pictures and report to the park guards who then report to TA.... A long process, but we are optimistic!
There is also some good news on the diesel engine that we provided a while ago. Dimitri located a suitable (aluminum) boat and he is currently negotiating the fitting of the diesel engine. The boat, however, will be custom made and the price tag will be somewhere around the $14,000 mark. He chose for aluminum as it will be much more durable than wood or fiberglass, and it will be maintained and anchored right at the lodge. At this point we have about $10,000 in the fund available (also thanks to a very generous donation at the end of last year by Dick Au. Thank you Dick!) and have asked Dimitri how we can assist in realizing this diesel boat for the park guards.
Encouraging news all around.
As always THANK YOU very much for your continued support! Enjoy your Malawi cichlids!