Llamas Help 25K Endangered Fish Move to New Home

Photo: Chadica / cc

Thousands of endangered fish in the UK have found an unlikely new ally in the struggle for survival. Vendace, a species of freshwater whitefish native to Wales and England, has been particularly hard hit by the rising temperatures associated with global warming. But now, in an effort to save the dwindling fish population, officials from Britain's Environment Agency have begun moving them to the cooler waters of mountain lakes and streams -- with the help of a team of llamas.The endangered vendace were once common throughout the UK, but due to environmental changes, they can now only be found in select areas around Cumbria. As temperatures rise from global warming and natural disasters like floods and droughts become more frequent, conservation officials realized that something needed to be done to save them.

"All of these could have an impact on much of the native wildlife in England, especially aquatic species such as the rare and specialized vendace, so we are taking action now to conserve the existing populations," said Chris Smith of the Environment Agency.

The group devised a plan to collect and move thousands of newborn vendace from their troubled waters in the lowlands to a place where they'd be a bit more comfortable -- enlisting some unexpected help for the big move.

From The Telegraph

They then took 25,000 young fish from the hatchery to a cooler lake higher up the mountains of the Lake District, Sprinkler Tarn, to establish a new 'refuge' population that is more likely to survive warming temperatures.

Because the route to the lake is so rocky and uneven, it was impossible to use conventional transport like a 4x4 motorbike or landrover. So, the fish were given a ride during part of the two-hour trek by sure-footed llamas from a local charity. The journey was finished by fisheries officers on foot to ensure none of the smarts were spilt.


Officials say that they'll continue to monitor the fish to ensure that they're adjusting well to their new home in the mountains. And, with any luck, the the endangered fish will be around for a while longer in those cooler waters -- though I suspect that the future generations of vendace will have a hard time believing just how they came to be there. The first llama story, perhaps?

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Tags: Endangered Species | Fish

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