Hola! Vamos a Mexico! (Hello! Let’s go to Mexico!)
We have to travel to the far South of Mexico City to the ancient Lake Xochimilco to save our Critically Endangered (CR) little Axolotl amphibian. This is the only place in the world where Axolotls live. And we have to hurry because they are disappearing fast!
Mexico is a natural wonder land of mountains, rain forests and deserts and hosts a world of different kinds of flora (plant) and fauna (animal) wildlife.
The long strip of land that is the country of Mexico is wedged in between the United States and the continent of South America. Mexico is bounded on the East by the Pacific Ocean and the waters of the Gulf of Mexico tumble onto its Western coast.
Mexican Walking Fish
Although sometimes called the Mexican Walking Fish, Dog Fish, or Dragon Fish, the Axolotl is not a fish at all. It is an Amphibian Salamander, in the family of Frogs, Toads, and Newts. This little pink (or darker colored) beauty has four legs with tiny toes. External gills are feathery looking branches fluttering from either side.
Our ‘smiley-face’ Axolotl weighs only 8 ounces and is 9-18 inches long. Unlike other amphibians that develop to be able to live in or out of water, this species stays in the water. Sometimes they will come to get a gulp of air, but return right back into the water.
They are bottom feeders and eat tiny fish and worms. Unfortunately, many migrating birds like Herons, like to eat the Axolotl.
More Than Just a Cute Face
Scientists are discovering that the unique Axolotl, a small and fragile part of the whole ecosystem of the world, is a potential life saver. Axolotls can regenerate (regrow) parts of their body that have been cut or broken off. They have a special Protein that enables them to regrow organs, legs, tissues,muscles, tail, spinal cord, skin, and bones. This regeneration can happen at any part of the body and regrowth leaves no scar on the Axolotl.
They have a natural disease resistance 1,000 times greater than normal. Understanding the secrets of the Axolotl’s ‘miracle’ replacement process could help in human regrowth processes in cases of severe burns and loss of limbs, and some diseases.
If Axolotls Could Talk, They Would Say, “HELP!”
Axolotls are on the brink of extinction due to water pollution. Formerly, there were 6,000 axolotls per square mile of habitat waters. Now, there are a few dozen per square mile in the sadly polluted waters of Lake Xochimilco. Loss of habitat, as with many endangered wildlife is the reason leading to extinction. The lake and connecting canals are being drained. Wastes are dumped in the lake and canals by a bustling tourist trade. Pesticides run off into the water from agricultural fields.
Fortunately, Mexican authorities and universities are working to correct the situation and actively pursuing plans for a healthy ecosystem in Lake Xochimilco. Also, UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization) has designated the lake area as a World Heritage site, giving it special protection status.
Conservation Heros – Saving Earth’s Natural Resources
There is more to conservation than just saving wildlife so we can look at them and enjoy their beauty in the wild or in ‘compassionate capture’ situations. Animal and plant life matters because these natural elements of our environment have survival secrets that could save our lives in the ‘new norm’ of the future.
Thanks, Conservation Kids, for being aware, caring and daring to join the efforts to save wildlife – one plant, and one animal at a time.