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Saving Joba Mena, a Journey from Extinction to Hope
Episode 1781st March 2024 • CarbonSessions • The Carbon Almanac Podcast Network
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Episode Summary: Discover the thrilling journey of the Mangarahara cichlid, also known as the Joba Mena, from near extinction to a beacon of hope in conservation efforts. 

In this conversation Leekei shares with Kristina the story of how Brian Zimmerman, alongside other experts, embarked on a mission that led to the rediscovery of this critically endangered species in Madagascar, fostering successful breeding programs and inspiring a global call to action.  

This story is a testament to resilience and the power of collaborative conservation. Tune in for an inspiring tale of survival and science. 

 

Want to find out more? 

Read the article in The Science New Hope for an Endangered Fish in Madagascar 

Listen to Brian in Oxford Science Sparks Where are all the Mangarahara cichlid hiding? 

Discover the story of Guy Tam Hyock - "The Fish Whisperer" 

Visit the Tropical Aquarium in Paris 

 

For more information on the project and to order your copy of the Carbon Almanac (one of Amazon best-selling books of the year!), visit thecarbonalmanac.org 

 

Want to join in the conversation? 

Visit thecarbonalmanac.org/podcasts and send us a voice message on this episode or any other climate-related ideas and perspectives. 

 

Don’t Take Our Word For It, Look It Up! 

You can find out more in the Carbon Almanac page 134, 136 and on the website you can tap the footnotes link and type in 065 and 074 

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Featuring Carbon Almanac Contributors Leekei Tang and Kristina Horning. 

Leekei is a fashion business founder, a business coach, an international development expert and podcaster from Paris, France.  

Kristina has a background in architecture and engineering. Currently in Prague (that it is where she is originally from) and her base is US 

 

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The CarbonSessions Podcast is produced and edited by Leekei Tang, Steve Heatherington and Rob Slater. 

Transcripts

Speaker:

Hi, I'm Christina.

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I'm from Prague.

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Hi, I'm Jen, and I'm from Canada.

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Hi, I'm Oladunji, and I'm from Nigeria.

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Hello, I'm Liki, and I live in Paris.

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Hi, I'm Brian, and I'm from New York.

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Welcome to Carbon Sessions, a podcast with

Carbon Conversations for every day, with

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everyone, from everywhere in the world.

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In our conversations, we share ideas.

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Perspectives, questions, and things we

can actually do to make a difference.

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So don't be shy and join our Carbon

Sessions because it's not too late.

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Leekei: Hi, I'm Liki,

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riverside_kristina_raw-audio_carbon_daily_0196:

Hi, I'm Christina.

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riverside_leekei_raw-audio_carbon_daily_0195:

Christina.

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I was listening to our past

conversation the other day, , about

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the planetary boundaries and.

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You know, remember one of the, planetary

boundaries is loss of biodiversity.

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So I thought that to, yeah.

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So I thought that today I could

share a story, um, a happy story.

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I, I mean, I should not , uh,

give you a spoil of the

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story, but in it did end well.

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A happy story of a fish species that was

on the brink of extinction that lives

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in Magadha scar and is a freshwater fish.

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So it lives in rivers.

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riverside_kristina_raw-audio_carbon_daily_0196:

I like happy stories.

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riverside_leekei_raw-audio_carbon_daily_0195:

Yes, yes, yes.

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So this story is about the fish.

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And, um, and you know, that's, lots of

biodiversity is one of the planetary

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boundaries that have been crossed.

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And so this is very scary because

when there's no biodiversity, I don't

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know if you remember, but we discussed

about the food chain and all that.

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, uh, and, and then the

ecosystem needs to reorganize.

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And so my question to you

is, do you know what caused.

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What are the causes of

loss of biodiversity?

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riverside_kristina_raw-audio_carbon_daily_0196:

Ooh.

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Yeah.

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I think that's, for me, that's one of the

scariest thing, the loss of biodiversity,

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because I always look, I love birds and

I love, um, I love listening to them.

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And, uh, in cities, because

of the light pollution, the

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lights killed a lot of insects.

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So the amount of insects in the cities,

even though it's comfy, but there's not

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enough for the birds to stay around.

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So for me, that's one of the loss of

diversities, that broken chain, that

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we don't have beautiful little birds

chirping and running around the city.

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So, yeah, tell me more about the fish.

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riverside_leekei_raw-audio_carbon_daily_0195:

Yeah.

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Well, actually, , before I tell you more

about the fish, uh, I would like to,

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um, to clarify that what you mentioned

is I think one of the category, one

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of the thing that is a threat to the

biodiversity is invasive species.

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What you mentioned here is humans

as a species that is using too much

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light and that kills the insect.

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And then the birds don't

have any food left to eat.

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Because there are many causes

of loss of biodiversity.

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So there's invasive species.

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There's also a threat

to the natural habitat.

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And this is, um, and this one of

them, uh, what I would say, one of

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the cause of loss of natural habitat

would be, uh, would be deforestation.

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Like, uh, you know, in Indonesia,

um, because a lot of forests have

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been cut to plant palm trees, , uh,

at one stage around Uten that

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will living in this forest.

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Uh, the threat of extinction because

of, of the natural habitat was a threat.

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And the same thing goes for also

for pandas, uh, because pandas

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used to live in bamboo forest.

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And, uh, because Of, you know, of a

changeable land and deforestation.

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, so a lot of pandas have disappeared.

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I mean, there's a program of conservation.

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So don't be too scared.

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So, uh, but, um, there are other,

um, other causes that could lead to

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a loss of biodiversity, which is.

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Obviously, climate change, and you know,

because climate change changes a lot of

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things, but there's also things, , like

pollution, disease, also that could

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lead to the loss of species, but the

other thing also is Over exploitation

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and for fish, it could be overfishing

or for animals could be over hunting.

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So there are a lot of

causes loss of biodiversity.

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So we have to be very careful about that.

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But the story I want to tell you today

is about a fish that is called the,

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the native name is, uh, Jobamina.

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And this is, um, I think it's

a mal, mal, is it malgash word,

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um, for, um, for pretty lady.

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riverside_kristina_raw-audio_carbon_daily_0196:

it sounds great.

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Sounds like pretty lady.

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riverside_leekei_raw-audio_carbon_daily_0195:

Yeah.

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And, um this fish, lives, the, the

scientific name of this fish is

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Mangahara is the name of the river.

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And yeah, I don't know if

you, um, you have some idea

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about, uh, where Madagascar is.

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riverside_kristina_raw-audio_carbon_daily_0196:

I do.

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It's a special, special place.

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They have a lot of species that

are instinct everywhere else.

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riverside_leekei_raw-audio_carbon_daily_0195:

Yeah.

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It's um, it's called, It's called the

eighth continent sometimes because

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it's a very very big island \ because

they have been isolated, this island

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has been isolated for a while.

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Yeah.

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Uh, so there's, um, the species that live

there, I think there's an estimate that 80

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percent of the species are endemic there.

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So that means they only

live on this island.

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riverside_kristina_raw-audio_carbon_daily_0196:

Yeah.

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riverside_leekei_raw-audio_carbon_daily_0195:

Yeah.

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So anyway, um, let's go back to

my, uh, my job, I may not fish.

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so the story didn't start

in, in, um, in Madagascar.

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It started in London, at

the London Zoo Aquarium.

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There's a curator of Zoo Aquarium

whose name is brian Zimmerman . Early

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2000s, he was donated 20 fish from a

private collector of the job, I mean,

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uh, , , the private collector donated

this fish to the current, because

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he knows at that time that this, um,

this is a species that was at threat.

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I listened to an interview and he

said that, well, yeah, I was quite

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confident at that time because, um,

you know, we, at the beginning we just

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learning how to, to keep the fish alive.

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So at the beginning of the, he was quite

onfident, but then, um, in:

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realized that he had only two fish left.

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And two, the only two of them were males.

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riverside_kristina_raw-audio_carbon_daily_0196:

Oh no.

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Oh.

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riverside_leekei_raw-audio_carbon_daily_0195:

and at the same time, he was reading

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about the Mangahara River that was

getting dry because the water from

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this river was diverted to grow rice.

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And so he was getting

really, really nervous.

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Because, he was supposed

to keep those, those fish.

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And then he's got only two males left.

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And then at the same time, he

thought, wow, maybe, I have

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in my hand the only ones left.

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So, you know, well, well, what do you do?

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So he called a friend who's, um, was

also a curator of an aquarium in the zoo

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of Berlin and told him yeah you know um

I'm very nervous because I only have two

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males left and so do you have any left

and the the zoo in Berlin had this oh

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don't don't worry too much I have three

left I have two males And one female.

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Um, then he said, okay, so

we need to do something.

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We need to, we need to make

them, you know, spawn and,

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you know, make more fishes.

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So, , the curator in Berlin in the Berlin

aquarium, he put them a male and a female

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in a separate aquarium and then, uh,

and then create, you know, a very nice.

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Um, environment for them and you'll

give them some space and let them

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together for them to, you know, to

spawn and to, yeah, to make more fishes.

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But then, because, um, apparently

something I've learned from this

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story is that a cichlid is a

very, very, um, aggressive fish.

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The male killed the female.

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riverside_kristina_raw-audio_carbon_daily_0196:

Oh, no!

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riverside_leekei_raw-audio_carbon_daily_0195:

Yeah.

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then, you know, this operation of

starting a new family was gone.

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This hope was gone.

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riverside_kristina_raw-audio_carbon_daily_0196:

Oh,

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riverside_leekei_raw-audio_carbon_daily_0195:

Yeah, it was gone.

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So, and so what Brian Zimmerman did, he

is like, it can't be, it can't be it.

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You know, , I have to do something

because, it was donated to us.

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And so I'm, I'm supposed to

safe, safeguard this fishes.

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riverside_kristina_raw-audio_carbon_daily_0196:

Yeah,

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riverside_leekei_raw-audio_carbon_daily_0195:

And so what he did is in, uh, and

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we're talking about 2012, 2013.

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So 10, uh, over 12 years back , , and

that was the beginning of social media.

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Um, so what he did is that he launched a

campaign, I give very funky campaign, uh,

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with a poster saying wanted a female job.

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I mean, I wanted female, no, not

Juba Mina, Mangara, Hara, , sicklet.

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And he put it on social media.

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It creates a lot of buzz up to a

point that I was very, very happy

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that he had created a dedicated

email address because he was, he

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received answers by the thousands.

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So this campaign went viral.

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He had a lot of responses.

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, but.

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A lot of them were dead ends, um, but

nevertheless, he managed to build,

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um, a kind of, um, partnership

with another zoo in, uh, in Toronto.

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And then, um, one day he received

a message from, um, , from

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someone from Madagascar.

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Someone who's, um, who owns

hotel and, uh, also a tilapia.

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farmer.

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I don't know if you, um, you know,

tilapia is a very common fish in Africa.

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And so this guy is called Guy Tam Hyok

and said, yeah, well, I think I saw this

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fish, the fish that you're looking for.

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Um, I don't breed them,

but I think I saw them.

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And so, you know, he sent him some

pictures of, you know, some indication,

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and then he kind of convinced him to.

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Start raising money to get on an

expedition to search for the fish.

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But the only thing that he had with

him was um, , the, the local and,

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um, farmer and then that's it.

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And so they went on an expedition.

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And that was wild because, um, because

they had no idea where to look.

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for this, uh, for this fish.

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And so they started asking the

locals, go to the markets, go to

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different parts and , asking people.

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And then one thing led to another, they

have traveled through, they went up

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north, traveled through the island for, I

think, three weeks or something like that.

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, and the conditions were not Were not easy,

like, you know, a day or that sometimes

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they have to to drive on dirt road.

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And, , I gathered that, some

days they were driving, um,

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on the 20 K, , per hour speed.

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That was, uh, that was

really, really slow.

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And sometimes there's not even

roads that they have to hike for

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days and days, but eventually.

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They found it.

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they found it and they managed to, to

preserve, um, 18 live fish that they

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gave to, guide Tam Hyok, who has

managed to, to conserve them and then

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move them somewhere that is safer for

them to grow and, um, actually, now the

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species is safe I've learned all that

for a visit in the n decorum in the

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tropical aquarium a couple weeks back.

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And, um, and I can tell you that

this fish is alive because I saw

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them, they was swimming in Theorum.

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That's an amazing story.

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riverside_kristina_raw-audio_carbon_daily_0196:

that's fun.

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So, did they get some fish to London Zoo?

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Do you know?

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riverside_leekei_raw-audio_carbon_daily_0195:

Oh, that's a good question.

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Um, Yeah, I believe so.

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Now that they have, um, you know, they

realize that this kind of collaboration

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work, um, they are programs , , through

different aquariums and, uh, and zoos

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to, to, uh, to keep the fish to safe.

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Yeah.

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One thing I didn't know, , uh, that

there are some aquariums the

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role is to safeguard the species.

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riverside_kristina_raw-audio_carbon_daily_0196:

Oh, nice.

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riverside_leekei_raw-audio_carbon_daily_0195:

Yeah.

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riverside_kristina_raw-audio_carbon_daily_0196:

Yeah, so maybe we can send people

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to look into London Zoo if they

have the fish and let us know.

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riverside_leekei_raw-audio_carbon_daily_0195:

Yes.

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Yes.

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riverside_kristina_raw-audio_carbon_daily_0196:

out the endangered species in the zoos.

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riverside_leekei_raw-audio_carbon_daily_0195:

Yeah.

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I've

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riverside_kristina_raw-audio_carbon_daily_0196:

wonderful story.

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riverside_leekei_raw-audio_carbon_daily_0195:

Yeah, I found out about this story because

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a few weeks ago I took my niece and

my nephew to this tropical aquarium and

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there was an exhibition for kids because

this story , has become , a cartoon book.

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And, um, and so there was an exhibition

that you, you can go through all the

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cartoon characters and, and fly, not

fly on the plane, but you know, there's

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there's the, the, the scene you can,

um, pretend that you're flying or you

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pretend that you're searching for this.

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And I think that this kind of exhibition

is great because, um, my niece, who's

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eight year old, Asking me a lot of

questions about the environment, about,

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you know, uh, yeah, about the environment,

about, oh, you know, um, about why

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did fish disappear and, uh, can I eat

sushi, you know, this kind of question.

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It was very cute.

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Um,

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riverside_kristina_raw-audio_carbon_daily_0196:

that's wonderful.

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Well, there's, yay for social media

that they were part of saving Yeah,

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riverside_leekei_raw-audio_carbon_daily_0195:

and this joba minnow Honestly, I've

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never heard about it before and, uh,

and I'm sure that there's so, so, so,

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so many spaces that are disappearing.

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But I think this is a

very, very hopeful story.

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riverside_kristina_raw-audio_carbon_daily_0196:

I, yeah, I think it would be so boring to

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have just few species and this, uh, taking

over and I don't think we would survive.

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I think diversity is so

important, connects all of us.

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riverside_leekei_raw-audio_carbon_daily_0195:

Yeah.

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And

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riverside_kristina_raw-audio_carbon_daily_0196:

And it's so much more fun.

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riverside_leekei_raw-audio_carbon_daily_0195:

yes, it's so much more fun and I think

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it's important to acknowledge, that

there are problems, but it is also.

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Important to take action because if

you don't acknowledge that there's

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problems, you cannot take action.

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And this time it was really scary.

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And, and so action was taken.

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And, uh, and there's, uh, you know,

there's, there's so much in this story.

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I think there's, you know, uh, No,

I shouldn't say ownership, but um,

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responsibility, um, social media, the use

of power, social media, um, international

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collaboration and talking to people.

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riverside_kristina_raw-audio_carbon_daily_0196:

Yeah, connections, connections.

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That's beautiful.

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I, um, yeah, it's such

a brave thing to do.

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I wonder what is for people

when they hear these things.

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What is it that makes them to take action?

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Because in your story, it made total

sense, and it felt very doable.

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It's how it started that, okay, let's

check out if somebody else has it.

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Make a phone call.

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Go on social media.

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And then it, the growing the audience

helps Connect everybody and that

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connection brings energy and money

to the project and then it can

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grow and, and the bravery of people

going to Madagascar, uh, to search.

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Wow.

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Amazing.

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I think that's a good story.

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It's, uh, somehow it energizes me.

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It's kind of, I feel like, okay,

if he can do it, I can do it.

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riverside_leekei_raw-audio_carbon_daily_0195:

Yeah.

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And if you want to find out more about

this, this fish, this story, and, uh, and

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if you're going to Paris this summer, and

I know a lot of our listeners are going

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to Paris for the Olympics, you can go

and, and, um, and find out about this.

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The exhibition is still there and

the job I may not is still there.

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So go to the Paris.

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tropical aquarium.

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It's a, it's a very, very

beautiful aquarium, not too big.

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So you will not be overwhelmed, but

the exhibition is there and the fish

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is there and it's free for kids.

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riverside_kristina_raw-audio_carbon_daily_0196:

Oh, wonderful.

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. Well thank you so much Liggev,

that was a wonderful story

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and we'll see you next week.

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riverside_leekei_raw-audio_carbon_daily_0195:

Yeah.

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Thank you for listening to this story.

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That gave me a lot of joy.

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You've been listening to Carbon

Sessions, a podcast with carbon

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conversations for every day with

everyone from everywhere in the world.

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We'd love you to join the Carbon

Sessions so you too can share your

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perspectives from wherever you are.

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This is a great way for our community

to learn from your ideas and

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experiences, connect and take action.

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If you want to add your voice to the

conversation, go to the carbonalmanac.

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org slash podcast.

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This podcast is also part of

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For more information, to sign up for

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Be sure to subscribe and join

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we can change the world.