Item Details

Title: The role of satellite lakes in conservation of fish species diversity in the Lake Kyoga basin.

Date Published: 1999
Author/s: Ogutu-Ohwayo, R. and Wandera, S.B. and Namulemo, G. and Mbabazi, D.
Data publication:
Funding Agency : USAID Consortium
Copyright/patents/trade marks:
Journal Publisher: Fisheries Research Institute
Affiliation: National Agricultural Research Organisation [NARO], Fisheries Research'Institute [FIRI]


Lakes Victoria and Kyoga had, a diverse fish fauna, which was important as food for local population and valuable in scientific studies. Over the past twenty years, the diversity of fish in these lakes had declined due to over-exploitation, introduction of new fish species including the piscivorous Nile perch and degradation of fish habitat. Studies of satellite lakes in the Victoria and Kyoga lake basins suggested that some of these lakes harboured species which had been lost from the main lakes. In order to better understand the extent, to which these satellite lakes may serve as refugia, a faunal survey was undertaken to determine the distribution and nature of the taxa found. Seven satellite lakes and the eastern end of the main Lake Kyoga adjacent to these minor lakes were surveyed over a two-year period for fish species diversity. A total of 68 fish species were recorded of which 41 were haplochromines. Almost all the native non cichlids which occurred in the main lakes (Victoria and Kyoga) before the Nile perch upsurge recorded. Lakes Nawampasa, Gigati, Kawi, Agu and Nyaguo had the highest fish species and trophic diversity. The trophic diversity of haplochromines (based on Shannon Weaver Index) was highest in Lake Nawampasa (1.28), followed by Gigati (1.25), Kawi (1.18), Agu (0.8), Lemwa (0.81), Nyaguo (0.35) and was lowest in the main Lake Kyoga. Potential threats to these lakes were from collectors of ornamental fish species, especially the haplochromines, the spread of the predatory Nile perch and the water hyacinth, which are already in Lake Kyoga, and the destruction of macrophytes through harvesting of papyrus and reclamation for agriculture. The human population around these lakes harvested the fishes for food but the levels of exploitation were still low because the lakes were adjacent to main Lake Kyoga, the major supply of fish. Ornamental fish dealers were encouraged to start captive breeding of the fish for export to reduce pressure on the lakes and demonstrations for breeding were set up at FIRI in Jinja. Meetings and seminars were held with some of the communities living around the lakes sampled and the importance of fish species found in these lakes and the dangers of destructive practices discussed. Representatives of all taxa of fish caught from the lakes were preserved, catalogued and stored in the FIRI Museum. Results from this survey support the motion that these satellite lakes are important refugia for endemic diversity. Based on survey, we recommend that SaIne of these lakes like Nawampasa, Gigati, Kawi, Agu and Nyaguo could be designated as conservation areas of species threatened in the main lakes. One of the factors that seem to have prevented the spread of Nile perch into Kyoga Minor lakes seems to have been the presence of extensive swamps around these lakes and the low oxygen levels that exist in these habitats. Clearing of swamps and vegetation that separate Kyoga minor lakes from the main lake should be avoided to prevent Nile perch from spreading into these lakes.