It really is a shame that so many animals are threatened by loss of habitat and poaching. By this point in history, you would assume that people would know better. But what’s done is done. And when we discover that endangered species are still out there and fighting, it really is inspiring and refreshing.
In central Mexico, there is a sort of “fish” known as the Axolotl. This is ultimately a pretty ugly and unusual-looking creature, with a slimy tail, plumage-like gills and a mouth that almost curves into a smile. Its original habitat, the Xochimilco network of lakes and canals originally set up by the Aztecs hundreds of years earlier, which is in the middle of the Mexico City metropolitan area, the largest in the Western Hemisphere. As a result of this, the Axolotl is seriously under threat due to pollution, urban expansion and invasive species. Because of its ability to to regenerate severed limbs, it is extremely important to scientific research.
While some axolotls are still in aquariums, water tanks and research labs, these conditions aren’t ideal for the animals. And releasing captive-bred axolotls into the wild could potentially prove dangerous, due to a fungal infection that is fatal to the animal. The area around Xochimilco is being converted into illicit shantytowns, where sewage is dumped into the water. Scientists estimated that in 1998, there were an average of 6,000 axolotls per square kilometer in the area. This figure dropped to 1,000 in a 2003 study, and then to 100 in a 2008 study. Biologists recently built special “breeding grounds” in isolated areas of Xochimilco for the animals to breed and live without dangerous outside interference. However, recent efforts to skim Xochimilco to find axolotls proved futile, which caused many scientists to fear that the animals were extinct in the wild.
However, this past week, researchers spotted several of the creatures, reaffirming that they are still alive and have a chance at recovery. This is vital for the continuation of the species in their natural habitat. Let’s keep our fingers crossed and hope for the best for the axolotl and all of the other animals across the earth that face extinction.