“El Maquech” is not a piece of jewelry or an accessory, it is an animal that deserves to live

(Photo: yucatan.com.mx)

There must be a reform of the law to protect these animals, regulate their extraction and sale, it could even be declared illegal; or at least oblige the people who sell it to have a management plan through the Management Units for the Conservation of Wildlife (UMAs).

(MERIDA, YUC. – TYT).- The makech or maquech is not a piece of jewelry or an accessory, it is an animal that deserves to have a prolonged life like any other species, said biologist Gerardo Díaz Duarte.

Although there are no specific studies, the specialist acknowledged that the population of this insect has decreased considerably, mainly because its habitat – the jungle – has been destroyed by humans, in addition to the fact that its excessive and poorly controlled extraction impacts its quality of life. 

“Do they sell makech around here?” asks the reporter to a tenant of a well-known handicrafts market in the heart of the city of Mérida. 

“If you want a makech, ask for El Güero ,” the woman replies, almost whispering. In the next corridor of the market, there is the stall of the aforementioned character. “Do you have makech?” He immediately grabs a fishbowl filled with various specimens, which he had on top of a shelf.

Each makech is decorated with classic jewelry and costs 290 pesos (15USD). The seller simply answers that they are expensive for now due to shortages. “In the rainy season is when its price drops because there are more,” he says.

(Photo: Abraham Bote)

In addition, by using the makech as an accessory, it is likely that the specimen will die within a week, since people do not have what is necessary for their food and survival.

This Yucatecan beetle (as it is known), a species of polyphagous beetle from the Zopheridae family, is recognized in the region because it is “adorned” with colored stones and artisans attach a chain to it that, attached to a safety pin and can be used as a pin.

There are even legends around this animal; It is said that Cuzán was a very beautiful Maya princess who was engaged to Prince Ek Chapat, but she fell in love with a red-haired warrior named Chalpol.

The princess and the warrior lived a passionate love story until Cuzán’s father found out that his daughter had clandestine encounters with a commoner and ordered him killed.

The cries of the princess made the king take pity on her and forgive the red-haired warrior, but he had him turned into a beetle -makech- to give it to Cuzán, who adorned it with precious stones and hung it on her chest to fulfill the promise he had made to Chalpol to always carry him close to his heart.

 

(Photo: German Santos)

The makech is still sold in different parts of the city but with great secrecy; However, in a section of Calle 60 in the center, some artisans display it in front of their businesses, where fish tanks can be seen with the legend “10 pesos a photo”, and prices range between 300 and 700 pesos.

Díaz Duarte explained that this species, with the scientific name Zopherus chilensis , extends through central Mexico to the Yucatan Peninsula, part of Guatemala, Belize and South America; can usually be found on logs, vegetation or jungle.

According to the specialist, the current situation of the insect is unknown, since there is not much data, however, based on his field work and experience, he indicated that it is a reality that its population has decreased exponentially, both for the loss of its habitat due to mega projects, extraction and the poor care it is given.

However, their extraction and sale is not illegal, since the federal environmental law does not contemplate insects for breeding, that is, there is no problem using them.

 

(Photo: Abraham Bote)

Also by buying one in a market, people are contributing to its loss, since they do not have the necessary care or food for it to survive.

The makech, he explained, feeds mainly on fungi of the ganoderma genus that grow on trees, and instead of this they give them fruits or other things, causing the death of the species.

Animal abuse 

Does placing these stones and jewels on the animal generate stress or some kind of mistreatment?

“The fact of sticking pebbles, from the part of the glue they use, could hurt it, it also represents a weight for them, it is an energy waste that they cannot compensate for,” he replied.

Yes, it could be considered animal abuse, he added, because they are not in the necessary conditions to live; it does generate stress for people to use it as jewelry. Its habitat is the shade, inside the trunks.

“It is not to have it as a piece of jewelry,” said the expert. This type of beetle are decomposers, fungi controllers and serve as food for other animals and insects. 

 

Illustration @ca.ma.leon

If concrete actions are not taken, if it continues to be extracted in an uncontrolled manner, and its habitat destroyed, the animal could reach extinction. 

Given this scenario, he asked to raise awareness of the purchase of any type of animal, and to document what happens and know if they are capable of giving them a prolonged life.

 

The Yucatan Times
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