Lates niloticus 

Scope: Global & Pan-Africa
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Actinopterygii Perciformes Latidae

Scientific Name: Lates niloticus (Linnaeus, 1758)
Regional Assessments:
Common Name(s):
English Nile Perch, African Snook, Victoria Perch
French Perche du Nil
Spanish Perca del Nilo
Centropomus niloticus Lacépède, 1802
Centropomus niloticus (Linnaeus, 1758)
Labrus niloticus Linnaeus, 1758
Lates albertianus Worthington, 1929
Lates niloticus ssp. albertianus Worthington, 1929
Lates niloticus ssp. macrolepidota Pellegrin, 1922
Lates niloticus ssp. macrolepidotus Pellegrin, 1922
Lates nilotus ssp. rudolfianus Worthington, 1932
Perca latus Geoffroy, 1827
Perca nilotica Linnaeus, 1762
Taxonomic Notes: The taxonomic status Victoria populations is uncertain. Lates was introduced to Lake Victoria in the late 1950s and early 1960s (Coulter et al. 1986) from the shallow waters of Lake Albert and Lake Turkana (Gee 1969). Although not necessarily conspecific with L. niloticus, the Lake Victoria Lates have always been referred to as L. niloticus.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2018
Date Assessed: 2009-05-01
Assessor(s): Azeroual, A., Entsua-Mensah, M., Getahun, A., Lalèyè, P., Moelants, T. & Ntakimazi, G.
Reviewer(s): Snoeks, J., Tweddle, D., Getahun, A., Lalèyè, P., Paugy, D., Zaiss, R., Fishar, M.R.A. & Brooks, E.
This species has a wide distribution, with no known major widespread threats. It is therefore listed as Least Concern.

It has been assessed regionally as Least Concern for central, eastern Africa and western Africa, though in northeastern Africa it is noted that the subpopulations from Lake Chamo of Ethiopia are particularly threatened by overexploitation of the fish. In Northern Africa, where the species is considered Data Deficient, the species was common in the Nile Delta, Lower and upper Egyptian Nile, Lake Wadi El-Rayan and Lake Nasser. However, the species is now declining due to overfishing and pollution (Kraiem pers. comm. 2007).

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:Lates niloticus is widely distributed in the rivers and lakes of tropical Africa, occurring commonly in all major river basins including the Nile, Chad, Senegal, Volta and Congo.

Central Africa: In Lower Guinea it is known from the Sanaga and Cross and coastal rivers of Cameroon. It has been introduced, at unknown date, from Sudan to Congo. According to FAO (2005), it is naturally reproducing and established. However, the species is native in the Congo River basin. Except for records from its natural distribution within the Lower Guinea province, no museum records are available.

Eastern Africa: This species is present in Lake Albert, the Albert and Murchison Niles and Turkana. It is now fully established in Lakes Victoria, Kyoga and Nabugabo, and the Victoria Nile, through introductions. According to Hartley (1984) an unpublicised introduction of L. niloticus took place in Lake Naivasha in the early 1970s and since the early 1980s several perch have been caught. No information is available on its present status but probably the species did not establish in the lake.

Northern Africa: It is common in the Delta, Lower and This species is known from upper Egyptian Nile, as well as Lakes Wadi El-Rayan and Burollos, and Nozha Hydrodrome. It is present in the brackish waters of Lake Mariout, near Alexandria.

Northeast Africa: It is found throughout the Nile drainage, Lakes Chamo and Abaya as well as Baro and Tekeze basins in Ethiopia. Also Setit in Eritrea.

Western Africa: This species is found almost everywhere in West Africa. Widely distributed in the Volta basin. (Dankwa et al. 1999) Present in Black Volta, White Volta and the Oti (Dankwa 1984).
Countries occurrence:
Benin; Burkina Faso; Burundi; Central African Republic; Chad; Côte d'Ivoire; Egypt; Eritrea; Ethiopia; Ghana; Guinea; Guinea-Bissau; Kenya; Liberia; Mali; Niger; Nigeria; Senegal; Sierra Leone; South Sudan; Sudan; Tanzania, United Republic of; Togo; Uganda; Zambia
Cameroon; Congo; Congo, The Democratic Republic of the
Additional data:
Lower depth limit (metres):60
Upper depth limit (metres):10
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:For the majority of its range, there are no data on population trends. In Egypt, its catch was increased from 840 tons in 1995 to be 8,453 tons in 2004. This is may be due to the increasing of fishing effort and/or fishing gear technologies.
Current Population Trend:Unknown
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:This species is demersal and potamodromous, and inhabits channels, lakes and irrigation canals. It prefers sandy bottoms but also found in rocky to muddy bottoms. Zones with vegetation in calm waters provide shelter to larvae and young. Adults inhabit deep water, while juveniles are found in shallow water (Froese and Pauly 2003). It is not present in the littoral rocky habitat (Witte and de Winter 1995). A voracious predator which predominantly feeds on Tilapia spp and Alestes spp. etc. (Reed et al. 1967) and shrimps, although the juveniles feed on larger crustaceans and insects and are planktivorous (Bailey 1994). Long spawning season February-August. It reproduces around the year, with peaks in the rainy season. It probably spawns in shallow sheltered areas. Juveniles occur over wide depth range but the highest concentration of small juveniles are found in littoral and sub-littoral zones (Witte and de Winter 1995). Sexual dimorphism: females larger than males.

Introductions in Lake Victoria were mainly from Lake Albert. Nile Perch is responsible through predation and competition for food of the decimation and possible disappearance of two hundred or more species of the unique flock of endemic haplochromine cichlids in Lake Victoria.
Movement patterns:Full Migrant

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: This species is well marketable. Its total production in the River Nile in 1996 was about 795 tons, i.e. it contributes about 1.3% of the total Nile catch. Its production in Lake Nasser was 904 tons, and in Wadi El-Rayan was 44 tons in the same years (Bishai and Khalil 1997).

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): This is a highly commercial species, and is suffering from overexploitation in much of its native range, and to a lesser extent, pollution. Increasingly eutrophic conditions are threatening native subpopulations in Lake Albert.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: None known. More research is needed into this species population numbers and range, biology and ecology, habitat status and threats, as well as monitoring and potential conservation measures. Policy-based actions at multiple levels are required, along with harvest management, to reduce the impact of overfishing.

Errata [top]

Errata reason: An errata assessment was created to reword Rationale text, which previously suggested that this species was assessed as Data Deficient at the global level. This Data Deficient assessment refers to the regional category for Northern Africa only. The Rationale has been reworded to clarify the status globally and within the regions of Africa where it has been assessed. Minor typographical errors were also corrected in the text.

Citation: Azeroual, A., Entsua-Mensah, M., Getahun, A., Lalèyè, P., Moelants, T. & Ntakimazi, G. 2018. Lates niloticus (errata version published in 2018). The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2018: e.T181839A125152154. . Downloaded on 16 October 2018.
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