The Axolotl, Ambystoma mexicanum, is listed as ‘Critically Endangered’ on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™. This extraordinary species, which persists in a larval stage throughout its life, is restricted to an area of less than 10 square kilometres around Xochimilco on the southern edge of Mexico City.
Whilst there are large numbers of Axolotls in captivity around the world, the wild population is extremely small. The most significant threat to the Axolotl is the increasing pollution of lakes and canals as Mexico City continues to grow. The capture of this species for research and the pet trade contributed to population declines, but the Axolotl now breeds well in captivity, alleviating this threat.
Conservation efforts for the Axolotl are focusing on raising the profile of Lake Xochimilco through conservation education and a nature tourism initiative, alongside work on habitat restoration. In addition, there are several captive colonies around the world, which may eventually provide opportunities for reintroductions of the Axolotl to parts of its historical range, once the main threats have been addressed.