Mexican researchers have long been sounding the alarm: the tailed axolotl, known for its ability to regenerate entire organs, is threatened with extinction.
The number of Axolotls in their Mexican homeland has declined dramatically in recent years. Axolotls are also kept as pets since the 1860s, when they were first brought from Mexico to Europe.
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Why are Axolotls Endangered
The Mexican Caudate Axolotl, which is widely considered to be one of the most unusual animal species worldwide, has fascinated researchers for its extraordinary regenerative abilities.
This amphibian has the remarkable capability to regenerate not only limbs and tails – but also complete organs like the eye and parts of the brain! This makes the Axolotl a crucial subject of study for scientists interested in tissue regeneration.
A recent study conducted by the “National Autonomous University of Mexico” (UNAM) is highliting a concerning threat to the survival of the Axolotl species. The research has revealed that the axolotl is currently under the threat of extinction due to the severe pollution of its natural habitat located in the wetlands south of Mexico City.
The wetlands where the axolotl lives are being negatively impacted by contamination caused by sewage, trash, and heavy metals, which has had a profound impact on the water quality and ecosystem.
The pollution of Water by pesticides has reduced the amount of dissolved oxygen in the water, this makes it difficult for the axolotl to breathe and reproduce. Consequently, the number of axolotls in the wild has drastically declined in the recent years!
All this is indicating the urgent need for conservation measures to protect this unique and valuable species.
Axolotls are facing threat of extinction in the wild because of the excessive water pollution from agriculture, loss of habitat, invasive species, and overfishing.
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Mexican Axolotl Faces Extinction from Habitat Pollution
The Study has revealed that the number of axolotls per square kilometer in the waters of Xochimilco has drastically reduced from 1,000 specimens in 1996 to only 0.3 in recent times.
This significant decline in the axolotls population is mainly attributed to the poor quality of wastewater from the nearby metropolis and the presence of harmful pesticides in the agricultural fields! Both factors have severely impacted the water quality.
In addition, the thousands of tourists who navigate through the canals on colorful boats every week have also contributed to the pollution of the waters. The waste generated from these recreational activities has further degraded the quality of the axolotl’s habitat, adding to the challenges faced by this endangered species.
Another significant factor contributing to the decline of axolotls in Xochimilco is the introduction of thousands of Chinese carp and African tilapia into the waters for fishing during the 1970s. These non-native species compete with the axolotl for food. The predatory behavior of Tilapia has led to the destruction of the axolotl’s spawn – making it even more challenging for the axolotls to reproduce and survive.
The multiple threats posed to the axolotl population in Xochimilco have worsened the already dire situation for the species, making urgent conservation measures crucial to protecting this unique and valuable amphibian species.
The Mexican axolotl is at risk of extinction due to habitat pollution caused by several factors, including poor quality of wastewater, the presence of harmful pesticides in the agricultural fields, and waste generated by tourism.
The introduction of non-native fish species has led to intense competition for food and the destruction of the axolotl’s spawn. Urgent conservation efforts are necessary to protect this endangered species and prevent its further decline.
Scientists Launch Projects to Save Mexican Axolotl from Extinction
To address the urgent issue of the threatened Axolotl species, a group of scientists from the “National Autonomous University of Mexico” (UNAM) has partnered with the University of Kent in the UK. They launched projects aimed at saving the axolotl at risk of becoming extinct!
The project’s primary objective is to encourage the local farmers to abandon the use of harmful pesticides and to stop the aquaculture of non-native fish species, which compete with the axolotl for food.
In exchange for their cooperation, farmers will receive organic certification for their products. The government will create economic incentives to promote sustainable farming practices. The project’s coordinator, Horacio Mena, has revealed that around a hundred axolotls are being farmed in three experimental canals in the municipality of Xochimilco, with a dozen farmers applying a system of keeping the canals clean with the help of aquatic plants.
Moreover, the scientists have taken additional measures to protect the axolotls from theft and illegal trade. The exact location of the refuges where the axolotls are being kept is confidential to prevent their theft for sale as pets or to make dubious potions, which are believed to have medicinal properties in some traditional medicines.
The project’s success is critical to preserving the axolotl and its ecosystem, and its potential impact extends beyond Xochimilco’s waters. The lessons learned from this project can be applied to other regions facing similar challenges, making it a vital effort to protect and conserve the Mexican axolotl species.
The Fascinating Regenerative Abilities and Unusual Life Cycle of the Axolotl
Ambystoma mexicanum, commonly known as the axolotl, is an aquatic amphibian species that can reach up to 30 centimeters in length and can live up to 20 years.
One of the most unique features of the axolotl is that it remains in the larval stage throughout its life, reaching sexual maturity without undergoing any metamorphosis. These creatures lay up to 1500 eggs four times a year, and their coloration can vary from milky white to olive green or inky black.
The most interesting traits of the axolotl is its ability to regenerate entire organs and its resilience against cancer.
Biologists are currently studying their cell programming to unlock the secrets behind these capabilities. Even the famous naturalist Alexander von Humboldt was fascinated by these unfinished creatures.
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