Two adult and 25 juvenile Arapaimas were safely moved from a drying pond located upstream the Essequibo River from the Iwokrama River Lodge, the Iwokrama Centre for Rainforest Conservation and Development said Thursday.
“With the critical dry season currently being experienced in that region due to the El Nino effect, the partners soon realised that if the fish were not moved from the pond, they would perish,” said the Centre in a statement.
The organisation said the dedicated team of Iwokrama staffers and community residents spent the day of November 10th, 2015 carefully transferring the fish to the river body. “This action shows the immense potential of indigenous resource conservation and management. The Iwokrama’s management is grateful for all the support that was received for this effort and is very heartened with the level of commitment shown by the partners especially the communities to save these very special animals,” the centre added.
The Arapaima is the largest freshwater scaled fish in the world and is legally protected in Guyana.
The Iwokrama Centre said management was informed of the stranded Arapaima on November 2nd by officials from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and sent a monitoring team the next day, led by Head Ranger, to investigate.
One adult Arapaima and several juveniles were seen in the pond that was drying out and very muddy. Concerned Fair View residents, who reside within the Iwokrama Reserve on 22, 000 hectares of their titled land, later reported that they had seen not one, but two adults in the pond.
Consultations were quickly held with relevant partners including North Rupununi District Development Board (NRDDB) community experts, Fisheries Department, EPA and researcher Dr Lesley de Souza to come up with a rescue plan.
An expert team of local fishermen from Fair View, Kwatamang and Rewa Villages and Iwokrama staffers executed the rescue mission on November 10th.
Special protocols were applied to ensure safe transfer to the river.
The NRDDB in collaboration Iwokrama and other partners developed an Arapaima Management plan, which is legally recognised by the Government of Guyana. This plan has recently been revised.
Iwokrama says it remains resolute that collaborative management, with a focus on strong partnerships, valuing traditional knowledge and investment in capacity building, is the route to successful natural resource management.
The Rescue Team
1. Micah Davis, Iwokrama, Head Ranger (Toka Village)
2. Kevin Edwards, Iwokrama, Tourism coordinator (Kwaimatta Village)
3. Lakeram Haynes, Kwatamang Sr. Council and NRDDB treasurer
4. Stephanu Honorio, Rewa Village Council
5. Dennis Edwards, Iwokrama boat captain/Fair View
6. Bernard Williams, Iwokrama boat captain/Fair View
7. Rojas Jonas, Fair View Village
8. Dora Jonas, Fair View Village
9. Lucy Marslowe, Toshao, Fair View
10. Everton Allicock, Fair View Village
11. Ivor Ignacio, Fair View Village
12. Samantha James, Iwokrama, Outreach Manager/Kwatamang Village
13. Rockland Leo, Fair View Village
14. Deon Bernard, Fair View Village
15. Carmella Williams, Kwatamang Village