Two adult and 25 juvenile Arapaima were safely moved from a drying pond located upstream the Essequibo River from the Iwokrama River Lodge.
According to Iwokrama, a dedicated team of staffers and community residents spent Tuesday carefully transferring the fish to the river body.
Iwokrama said that its management was informed of the stranded Arapaima earlier this month by officials from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
The Iwokrama International Centre (IIC) was established in 1996 under a joint mandate from the Government of Guyana and the Commonwealth Secretariat to manage the Iwokrama forest, a unique reserve of 371,000 hectares of rainforest, “in a manner that will lead to lasting ecological, economic and social benefits to the people of Guyana and to the world in general”.
Iwokrama said it sent a monitoring team the next day, led by its Head Ranger, to investigate.
One adult Arapaima and several juveniles were seen in the pond that was drying out.
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.
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. 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 Arapaima is the largest freshwater scaled fish in the world and is legally protected in Guyana.
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 said 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. It was stressed that this action shows the immense potential of indigenous resource conservation and management.
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