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Flying an amphibian flagship: conservation of the Axolotl Ambystoma mexicanum through nature tourism at Lake Xochimilco, Mexico

Bride, Ian G., Griffiths, Richard A., Melendez-Herrada, A., McKay, Jeanne E. (2008) Flying an amphibian flagship: conservation of the Axolotl Ambystoma mexicanum through nature tourism at Lake Xochimilco, Mexico. International Zoo Yearbook, 42 (1). pp. 116-124. ISSN 0074-9664. (doi:10.1111/j.1748-1090.2008.00044.x) (Access to this publication is currently restricted. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided) (KAR id:23166)

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The effectiveness of flagship species as a conservation tool is controversial, and amphibians are not usually regarded as meeting the strategic criteria that flagships demand. Capitalizing on the historical, cultural and economic importance of the Axolotl Ambystoma mexicanum at Lake Xochimilco, Mexico, a conservation programme for this species and its habitat was developed using the Axolotl as a flagship. The threats to the lake are complex and stem from the unsustainable use of its resources. The needs and livelihoods of local stakeholders must therefore be taken into account before attempting to address the threats. The programme therefore focused on developing nature tourism by training local boatmen (remeros) in environmental interpretation. Surveys showed that the boatmen increased their incomes and job satisfaction after training, and that the environmental interpretation programme improved relevant knowledge and awareness of visitors. Although ongoing threats mean that reintroduction of captive-bred Axolotls is not appropriate, zoos with captive populations of Axolotls supported the programme regionally and internationally by providing publicity, funds, staff expertise, training support and themed educational activities. By raising both funds and awareness for the wider conservation of Lake Xochimilco, the Axolotl is probably the first amphibian flagship to be launched successfully.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1111/j.1748-1090.2008.00044.x
Additional information: The authors are deeply indebted to their team of project assistants – especially Luis Hidalgo, Dulce Flores and Patricia Sa´nchez – for collecting much of the data on remeros and visitors and organizing the workshops. Thanks to Dr Patricia Aceves Pastrana, Dr Norberto Manjarre´z A´lvarez, Dr Cuauhte´moc Vladimir Pe´rez Llanas (Rectors of UAM-X), M. en C. Fernado Arana Magallo´n (Director of CIBAC), Josefina Resendiz (UAM-X), Luis Zambrano (UNAM), Fernando Gual-Sill (DGZCM), Bob Johnson (Toronto Zoo), Kevin Buley and Roger Wilkinson (Chester Zoo), CONABIO, Delegacio´n Xochimilco and the British Herpetological Society for their support of the project. Matt Linkie provided helpful comments on the manuscript. This paper is dedicated to the memory of Dr Virginia Graue, who initiated the Darwin Initiative project but sadly died before its completion.
Uncontrolled keywords: axolotl; flagship species; fresh water; salamander; tourism; wetland conservation.
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GN Anthropology
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Anthropology and Conservation
Funders: Government of the United Kingdom (
Depositing User: James Chaffin
Date Deposited: 30 Oct 2009 14:48 UTC
Last Modified: 12 Jul 2022 10:40 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

University of Kent Author Information

Bride, Ian G..

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Griffiths, Richard A..

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McKay, Jeanne E..

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