The extraordinary return of the tequila fish to the rivers of Mexico

El sitio de reintroducción en Jalisco, el suroeste de México. Chester Zoo

The reintroduction site in Jalisco, southwestern Mexico. Chester zoo

A small miracle once again travels the rivers of southwestern Mexico.

The Tequila fish, “disappeared” since 2003, has been returned to the wild after being declared extinct.

“It’s just a little fish, not very colorful, there is not much interest in terms of global conservation “, explains Gerardo García, conservationist of the zoo of Chester, in the United Kingdom.

However, the program that has reintroduced the fish is an example of how species can be saved and freshwater ecosystems, one of the most threatened of the Earth, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

And in the process the local community has been crucial, in Jalisco, Mexico.

The success of the operation has had a lot to do with the people living near the Tequila fish release site, they are playing a key role in monitor water quality of rivers and lakes.

“This is the the first time that an extinct species of fish has been successfully reintroduced in Mexico, so it is a true milestone for conservation, “said Omar Domínguez, from the Universidad Michoacana de México, whose team led the experiment.

“We couldn’t have done this without the localsThey are the ones that allow conservation to be long-term ”, he added.

Scientists in Jalisco

Chester Zoo
Scientists initially released 1,500 fish, but the population is increasing.

How was a fish that seemed extinct reborn?

A decades-long partnership between conservationists in Mexico and the UK has allowed them to be released now. 1,500 fish, which are already expanding through the river system.

But the project dates back to 1998. That’s when it all started.

That year scientists from the Aquatic Biology Unit of the Michoacana University of Mexico received five pairs of fish sent from the Chester Zoo, in the United Kingdom.

These 10 fish founded a new colony in the university laboratory, which the experts maintained and expanded for the next 15 years.

Before returning them to the river, 40 males and 40 females of the colony were released into large man-made ponds at the university.

This step was essential to train captive-raised fish to live in a wild environment with non-constant food resources, potential competitors, parasites and predators.

After four years, it was estimated that this population increased to 10,000 individuals and it became the source of reintroduction to nature.

“This shows,” says Gerardo García, “that animals can readjust to nature when they are reintroduced at the right time and in the right environments.”

BBC Mundo

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