The Cichlid Fishes of Lake Malawi, Africa

Abstract of Publication

Fryer, G. 1972. Conservation of the Great Lakes of East Africa: A lesson and a warning. Biological Conservation 4 (4): 256-262.  

The Great Lakes of East Africa are not only the repositories of the world's three richest lacustrine fish faunas but also harbour unique assemblages of invertebrates. A few of these animals are illustrated. These lakes are of immense scientific interest, not merely by virtue of their richness in species, nor even because so many species are endemic, but as field laboratories of evolution whose operations we have scarcely begun to understand. They are also natural resources of great value, being enormous reservoirs of pure water, and the sites of fisheries producing many thousands of tons of fish per annum. Evidence is presented which unequivocally indicates that, by virtue of their tropical location and hydrological regimes, these lakes are much more susceptible to the damaging influences of oxygen-demanding pollution than their temperate-zone counterparts, and that, should they become contaminated, their renewal times are so great that a virtually irreversible catastrophe is possible. Evidence of the mismanagement of the fisheries of Lake Victoria is also presented and the danger of further uninformed exploitation pointed out. Certain apparent remedies are shown to be highly dangerous. The technology of fishing has advanced more rapidly than our scientific understanding of the extremely complex ecosystems involved.




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