What would be the best way to educate the locals?
Rajeev says it is by: “Mapping the areas where the fish are likely to be found, and then working with local governments at the village level and working through educational material to show them the kinds of fish which may come to their notice, and asking them to save those fish for scientific study, and for future generations, instead of killing them”.
And the conversation between scientists and locals works both ways: “All of these discoveries are made as a result of seeing photographs circulated on social media. Before the scientists come into contact with them, it is the local people who come into contact with them, so citizen science I think is key to the long-term research and conservation of these unique organisms. People are the key not only for conserving them but also for bringing these unique organisms to the attention of scientists”.
Finally, what comes next for the Aenigmachannidae?
Rajeev and the team aim to learn more about their ecology and biology. They will use small tags to learn more about where the creatures live, what organisms they feed on, and how they behave. They are also trying for an ex-situ captive breeding programme, so watch this space!