Dear cichlid friend,
A few days ago I received from Dimitri Giannakis the first photos of the new ANDs as they are being produced in Lilongwe, Malawi. They had some difficulty to weld the stainless steel wire but all is now set to get the 200 ANDs ready by the end of the month.
At the San Antonio FOTAS/CARES convention (Nov 2011), Phil and Jan Benes approached me and expressed their desire to help the Stuart Grant fund to obtain the diesel inboard engine for the park guards’ patrol boat. We were about $5000 short—engine plus peripherals cost about $13,300—and the Benes promised me that they would try to convince the ACA board of directors to help us obtain our goal. Less than a week later Phil sent me the great news that the ACA would donate a staggering $5000 (!) so that we could purchase the diesel engine that will use far less fuel than the present gasoline outboard. Early January Pennstate transferred the necessary funds to South Africa and the engine has been ordered and should be in Malawi by the end of February. Fuel in Malawi at the moment is rationed and the park guards could use their boat to patrol the Maleri islands only once a week. Starting March this year the guards can make their rounds every day using the same amount of fuel, donated by Dimitri’s company by the way, and prevent fishermen from plying their nets inside the 100 m no-fishing zone.
While I was working on a description of a new Melanochromis species I realized that another Malawi cichlid species needs protection: Melanochromis chipokae. This species has the narrowest distribution of any Melanochromis species and is found on tiny rocky reefs near Chipoka (Chidunga Rocks). They have been overfished by the ornamental fish trade and in 2009, the last time I was there, I found only three individuals. Twenty years ago they were rather common at this place and since the other species, less desired by aquarists, are still very common at Chidunga, it means that M. chipokae has been selectively collected, almost till extinction. Hopefully collectors now will refrain from collecting this species and hobbyists should make sure that this species is not lost.
Enjoy your cichlids and thank you for your continued support!