Scientists warn of the importance of protecting the ‘picassos’ of La Mancha
Scientists gathered at the first Monitoring Committee of El Hito LIFE project have highlighted the need to protect the ‘picassos’ of La Mancha, in clear allusion to the Roeseliana oporina, a type of grasshopper unique in the world, recently rediscovered in El Hito Lagoon. “We are losing our most emblematic ‘goyas’ and ‘picassos’. And we are not referring to the genius of an artist, but to the evolutionary process of an endangered species that has been on Earth for millions of years, long before the appearance of the first hominids,” said Mario García París, scientific researcher at the National Museum of Natural Sciences of Madrid (MNCN-CSIC).
There are currently two populations of Roeseliana oporina left in the world, one in El Hito Lagoon and the other to the south of Segóbriga. Its closest relatives are found in high mountain areas in the Alps in France and Austria. The “Cigarrón de La Mancha”, as it is commonly known, was first discovered in 1887 and since then had not been found again until a research team from the National Museum of Natural Sciences reconfirmed its presence in El Hito lagoon six years ago.
“If these populations disappear we will lose them forever,” warned the researcher from the National Museum of Natural Sciences. “They are not like cranes or other migratory birds that visit the lagoon year after year. These are unique and iconic critters that cannot be lost. We have an obligation to preserve both them and the habitats where they live.”
Mario García París made this warning during the first meeting of the Monitoring Committee of the LIFE project for the conservation of El Hito Lagoon, which brought together scientists and representatives of the territory and society in the Town Hall of Montalbo. The aim of this committee is to gather views and expectations on the different areas of work related to the Natura 2000 network space of El Hito Lagoon to serve as a consultative and advisory body of the project.