Wednesday, 5 December 2018

Axolotls in crisis: the fight to save the 'water monster' of Mexico City

The city’s floating gardens are a prime party spot – but pollution has driven the axolotl population to the verge of extinction. Can a radical plan save them?

Alan Grabinsky in Mexico City

Tue 4 Dec 2018 11.00 GMTLast modified on Tue 4 Dec 2018 11.12 GMT

Like many residents of Mexico City, my experience of the floating gardens of Xochimilco has mostly been tinged with alcohol. After all, every weekend, this Unesco world heritage site turns into a bacchanal, with groups aboard the canals’ iconic boats celebrating everything from high school graduations to engagements and weddings.

But this is a weekday morning, and Carlos Sumano, who is steering my canoe through the floating gardens, or chinampas, says that sort of unfettered use has taken its toll on the ecosystem. During his six years working in Xochimilco, Sumano has come across everything from pushchairs to television sets in canals. 

The loss of the axolotl is traumatic for Mexico City: the creature is vital both to its ecosystem and its imagination

Water pollution has also affected the region’s most unique creature: the axolotl.

When the Aztecs established themselves in the nearby city of Tenochtitlan, they found in Xochimilco what appeared to be the larva of a salamander. Fascinated, they called the animal “water monster” and incorporated it into their mythology as the mischievous and renegade brother of the god Quetzalcoatl.

Its divine character didn’t keep the Aztecs from eating it but, thanks in large part to the low-impact agriculture of Xochimilco, human and amphibian thrived.

No comments:

Post a Comment

You only need to enter your comment once! Comments will appear once they have been moderated. This is so as to stop the would-be comedian who has been spamming the comments here with inane and often offensive remarks. You know who you are!

Related Posts with Thumbnails