This is a very sad information. For me it doesn4t make a difference whether
a german aquarist or anybody else plundered the sites but I will investigate
if it was a german. The "scene" is transparent as is the market and if any
welaka will show up I will surely find out from what source they4ve come. If
the fish have been collected in that mutual numbers there are only very few
"candidates" for it.
It4s always the same: if a sought after species is not or hardly being bred
in captivity there will be people to make a quick money on it. This is the
case e.g. for algerian and turkish salamanders and newts, even german and
european natives are illegally exported - as soon as they are outside the
country they are "legal" as they aren4t protected by CITES. Or think of the
continuous legal exploitation of the african lakes. The fish are breedable
but that would take time and money so they prefer fishing them in horrible
numbers. And after 2-3 generations the stock is degenerated as nobody cares
for it. There are new fish available. As economy is weak the hurdle of shame
has dropped to toothpick level!
If any foreign aquarist or dealer has plundered the sites of welaka this
will for sure lead to a discussion about reglementations which is just
reasonable. But there as well is the possibility that it was a non-foreign
person and this should be checked as well.
I want to point out that I and the friends with whome I cooperate in the
hobby strictly reject such an acting! For example, I received a bunch of
SRBD in spring and now have some 400 fry in the pond. OK, welaka is
different but that is, despite the beauty of the fish, what encourages me to
try to get some (!) for breeding attempts knowing this will be a real
challenge. If welaka are offered in the trade over here I will communicate
their origin (after verification, of course) in magazines. Negative
publicity is just what the pet traders don4t need.
The problem could be easily solved by breeding welaka so that nobody needs
to collect them in the wild. This has prooved in many other species, e.g.
the reptiles and amphibia from Madagascar. Since they are restricted from
export the numbers of captive bred offspring has raised remarkably.
On the other hand - there is no interest or even market for north american
native fishes. So beautiful many of them are, after an article is published
there is literally no reaction on it at all! My friend Friedrich Bitter has
collected some P. hypselopterus and signipinnis and published fotos of it in
his magazine. No reader at all asked for more information. When I publish an
article on killis, there are always requests for fish or information. No
matter if it4s welaka or a beautiful dace or darter. There is just a handful
of people outside the US interested in these fishes. Sorry to say but from
an economic point of view it would be not worth flying into the US to
collect welaka even by the hundreds and one would not find customers or
hardly any. This will be the same with my SRBD. A friend wants some for his
pond. Now, where to go with 400 of them? For ponds people want goldfish,
kois and to the least some native european species (Rhodeus sericeus,
Phoxinus phoxinus). That4s it. In Germany I know of less than 10 persons
interested in NANF. Maybe three want welaka, that4s two friends of mine and
me. ;-) We tried to raise interest in darters, many people said "wow" when
looking at breeding males. But nobody wants to condition them over winter,
get the proper food in lots and offer that currency etc. etc. Guess how big
the interest is in a fish that shows spectacular fins and colors only in the
dominant male and only for some months, and requires certain water
parameters and quality, and good nutrition?
Has the person from the museum verified other factors, e.g. the floods this
summer, pollution (which is not rare as I learned from NANFA and NFC),
I would like to take the chance for a bet: Give me at least five young
adult, healthy pairs of welaka and there will be a good number of offspring
within the second season latest! Let me know what the bet takes! This fish
is breadable as any other is if one really tries. Whatever efforts it needs.
There is less than a handfull of fishes I wasn4t able to breed in the past
35 years. I know there is one of you friends who reported about welaka fry
earlier this year. As soon as welaka (or any other species) is available
from breeders hardly anybody from outside the US will go collecting it. The
question then rather will be wher to go with the welaka.
Completely different topic: How do I get the Creek Chubs outa my pond
without drying it up? These guys are really fast and the pond is well
planted. They came within the SRBD and now have reached some 15 cm which
makes me concerned for the next spring and breeding season. This year they
didn4t bother the SRBD but next year they will presumably reach 20 + cm and
might prey on the fry and on the newts, or don4t they at all?
I4ll keep you posted upon the welaka if they show up or not.
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