Extinction of the jarabugo seems inevitable unless there is a sustained conservation effort for this species (2). Conventional conservation strategies focusing around active breeding programmes or the transfer of individuals from one location to another are not viable because this small fish species is extremely sensitive to handling (9).
Between 1997 and 2000, a major conservation initiative called ‘A conservation strategy for Anaecypris hispanica’ was developed under the EU LIFE programme, which focused on the preservation and rehabilitation of the jarabugo’s natural habitat rather than one directed at the species itself. This strategy therefore also benefited other threatened fish species in the river basin (11).
The management plan proposed actions that included the designation of Special Areas of Conservation supported through the EU Habitats Directive, the rehabilitation of degraded habitats, control over the dispersal and numbers of exotic fish species, and the establishment of international collaboration to create sustainable use of the water resources and a tightened regulation of human activities. It also included the potential reintroduction of this species to recovered habitats, as well as a strong initiative to increase public awareness about conservation (8) (11) (12) (13).
Unfortunately the population of the jarabugo is still in decline despite these conservation measures; however, the newly discovered presence of another jarabugo population in the Bembezar River is a positive observation for what otherwise appeared a bleak future for the species (4).