Mexican Ecologists Launch Fundraising Campaign to Save Endangered Axolotls

The Adoptaxolotl campaign aims to raise funds for conservation efforts and research to protect the critically endangered axolotls in Mexico.

Mexican ecologists from the National Autonomous University have launched a fundraising campaign called Adoptaxolotl to support the conservation of axolotls, an endangered species of salamander. The campaign offers virtual adoptions and virtual dinners for the axolotls, providing updates on their health. The population density of axolotls in their main habitat has declined by 99.5% in less than two decades. Last year’s campaign raised over 450,000 pesos ($26,300) for a captive-breeding program and habitat restoration. However, more resources are needed for comprehensive research and monitoring.

Decline in Axolotl Population and Threats to their Survival

The axolotls, once abundant in Mexico, are now critically endangered. Scientists have observed a 99.5% decline in the population density of axolotls in their main habitat in under two decades. Water pollution, the presence of a deadly amphibian fungus, and the of non-native rainbow trout pose significant threats to their survival. The latest census conducted by the National Autonomous University found only 36 axolotls per square kilometer, compared to an average of 6,000 in the past. An international study estimates that there are less than 1,000 Mexican axolotls left in the wild.

The Importance of Research and Monitoring

The lack of comprehensive research and monitoring poses a significant challenge in understanding the status and distribution of different axolotl species in Mexico. Without this data, it is difficult to determine the urgency of conservation efforts and prioritize available resources. Ecologists emphasize the need for urgent action to protect the remaining axolotls. Alejandro Calzada, an ecologist leading a team of researchers, highlights the lack of monitoring in Mexico City and the entire country.

The Adoptaxolotl Fundraising Campaign

The Adoptaxolotl campaign aims to raise funds for conservation efforts and research. By donating as little as 600 pesos ($35), individuals can virtually adopt an axolotl and receive live updates on its health. Donors can also purchase a virtual dinner for the creatures. The funds raised from last year’s campaign supported an experimental captive-breeding program and habitat restoration in the ancient Aztec canals of Xochimilco, a southern borough of Mexico City. However, there is still a need for more resources to conduct thorough research and monitoring.

Threats to Axolotls and Conservation Efforts

The expanding urbanization of Mexico City has resulted in the deterioration of water quality in the canals where axolotls reside. Additionally, rainbow trout, which escape from farms, pose a threat to axolotls by displacing them and consuming their food. The axolotls are also increasingly affected by chytrid fungus, a skin-eating disease causing amphibian die-offs worldwide. The conservation efforts have primarily focused on the Mexican axolotl found in Xochimilco, but other species can be found in different regions of Mexico.

Government Funding and Future Prospects

While conservation programs rely on donations, the Mexican government recently approved an 11% funding cut for its environment department. Over the past six years, the current administration has provided 35% less funding to the country’s environment department compared to its predecessor. This reduction in funding poses challenges for conservation efforts and research.

Conclusion: The Adoptaxolotl campaign serves as a crucial initiative to raise funds for the conservation of axolotls in Mexico. The decline in their population and the numerous threats they face highlight the urgent need for research, monitoring, and habitat restoration. With the support of individuals and organizations, there is hope for the survival and recovery of these unique and endangered creatures. However, sustained funding and government support are essential to ensure the long-term conservation of axolotls and their habitats.






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