Project Coordinator: Hugo Araníbar; email@example.com
Project area: Lake Titicaca; Bolivia and Peru
The Titicaca Flightless Grebe is endemic to the Lake Titicaca catchment in Bolivia and Peru. It is considered Endangered as it has suffered from very rapid population reductions. The species declined by 15% between 2003 and 2005, consistent with a decline of over 50% in ten years. The population is small enough that, if declines continue, this species may soon need uplisting to Critically Endangered. The current population is estimated to be 1600 mature individuals. Threats identified by Armonía include loss of tule-bed breeding habitat, water pollution, hunting, egg collection and over-fishing. The greatest current threat to the species, and the principal cause of the drastic population decline, is drowning in monofilament gill-nets, which have been used on the lake since the early 1990s.
With the support of the Conservation Leadership Programme, Hugo Araníbar and Peruvian biologists conducted an experiment in collaboration with fishermen in the Lake Titicaca National Reserve in Peru, to determine if gill-net color had an effect on by-catch. Red, blue and green nets were tested. By-catch was significantly higher with green nets, the nets most used by fishermen. Red nets significantly reduced by-catch; however, fish-catch also was significantly lower with red nets. By-catch was highest during the breeding season (April-May) when adults as well as young were accidentally caught in the nets.
The next course of action for this species at a medium grant level would be to ensure its protection in the National Reserve in Peru. To save the species throughout Lake Titicaca would require a massive program and substantial support and collaboration by the Bolivian government.