The natural heritage of Madagascar is currently in crisis right now due to human population pressure. This island holds the titles of having the most endemic species as well as the most critically endangered species.
The endemic cichlid fish of Madagascar have been around for millions of years, yet they are literally about to disappear from the wild due to habitat destruction, fishing pressure, and invasive species. Our collaborative team consisting of a Hungarian aquatic biologist and Malagasy IUCN freshwater biodiversity specialists are continuing a focused study this summer on the Damba mipentina (Paretroplus maculatus) in western Madagascar to determine why the last documented population continues to exist in the wild. This is of critical importance as interviews with the local inhabitants highlight a sharp decline in this last population.
Our projects field logistics have been funded by the MBZ Endangered Species Grant of Abu Dhabi; the remaining requested amount is to help access vital survey equipment consisting of an underwater drone that is unavailable in Madagascar. This equipment is necessary to understand the underwater habitat of the fish as well as as avoiding the local Nile crocodile population. This drone will continue to help endangered species in Madagascar well beyond this survey as scientific equipment is in great need.
As a veterinary student and aquatic biologist, my goal is to help stem the rising tide of endangered species in our heavily pressured freshwater ecosystems. Helping preserve this formerly abundant fish before it completely disappears is the first step in my new career.