17 | AGO | 2019
Manatees endangered for breach of rules in Mexico
The West Indian Manatee (Trichechus manatus manatus) lives in the Caribbean – Photo:Patrick M. Rose/EFE

Manatees endangered for breach of rules in Mexico

09/08/2019
20:36
EFE
Mexico City
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The West Indian Manatee is in danger of extinction in Mexico and Belize due to dangers in its ecosystem

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With only 2,000 specimens, the West Indian Manatee (Trichechus manatus manatus) is in danger of extinction in Mexico and Belize due to the dangers of sharing its habitat with urban, port, touristic and fishing areas, as well as the non-compliance with existing regulations.

“Although the efforts on conservation can be proved by the number of manatees that are still alive today, our work is limited by the lack of laws and specific regulations on problems that threaten this species and that give the protection needed,” asserted biologist Jamal A. Galves.

The manatee researcher from Belize said that this subspecies is still in danger despite the efforts to ensure its survival.

National and international agencies like the National Commission of Protected Natural Areas (Conanp) from Mexico, and the World Wildlife Fund have warned of the dangers around this sirenian that can weight up to 1,500 kilograms and up to 4.6 meters long.

Although they are gentle and slow mammals, they are very curious. Hence, another factor that has influenced their disappearance, according to WWF, are accidental fishing and crashing with vessels, since they live and feed in shallow waters of 1 or 2 meters below the surface.

 

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Currently, this gray giant that eats 15% of its body weight in vegetation daily, is a species classified in danger of extinction, according to the Mexican official rules, and is part of the list of Priority Species for Conservation in Mexico.

Since 1991, the Mexican government has implemented programs in favor of the sirenian – which lives in the Caribbean – but has not prevented that its habitat has been limited to three regions in the southeast of the country.

These are the Biosphere Reserve of Sian Ka’án and Chetumal Bay in Quintana Roo; the Alvarado Lagoon and the Basin of the Papaloapan River, in Veracruz, and the low Basin of the Grijalva and Usumacinta rivers which goes from Tabasco to the North of Chiapas and the West of Campeche.

Nowadays, the only places that are receiving federal support – an amount of about USD $20,000 yearly – are the area of protection of flora and fauna in Bala’an K’aax and the Biosphere Reserve of Sian Ka’án, in the Yucatan peninsula, according to the Program for the Protection and Restoration of Ecosystems and Endangered Species (PROREST).

It is unclear why manatees have left the Caribbean, but the doctor in Ecology by the University of Arizona, Gerardo Ceballos, says that the movement of the sirenian is completely natural and that there is nothing to worry about.

However, for the researcher Jamal Galves, the only apparent reason for the movement of the species is that Belize still offers ecosystems that are “more untouched, healthy and benign” for the survival of manatees.

For his part, doctor Ceballos suggests that if we want to mitigate manatee deceases, Mexico and Belize have to collaborate, as they are already doing in the Southern Border College in Mexico, to make comprehensive conservation plans.
 

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