Protopterus annectens ssp. brieni 

Scope: Global & Pan-Africa
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Sarcopterygii Lepidosireniformes Protopteridae

Scientific Name: Protopterus annectens ssp. brieni Poll, 1961
Parent Species:
Regional Assessments:
Common Name(s):
English Southern Lungfish, Lungfish
Protopterus rhinocryptis Gray, 1850

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2010
Date Assessed: 2009-05-01
Assessor(s): Bills, R., Kazembe, J., Marshall, B., Moelants, T. & Vreven, E.
Reviewer(s): Snoeks, J., Tweddle, D., Getahun, A., Lalèyè, P., Paugy, D., Zaiss, R., Fishar, M.R.A & Brooks, E.
This subspecies has a wide distribution, with no known major widespread threats. It is therefore listed as Least Concern. It has also been assessed regionally as Least Concern for central and southern Africa. It has a limited distribution within the east Africa region where it only occurs in Malawi in the Lower Shire (other sub-populations are introduced). The Lower Shire is considered as one location. It is therefore assessed as Vulnerable.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:This subspecies is known from the Democratic Republic of Congo to northern South Africa.

Central Africa: Protopterus annectens brieni is known from the Luapula-Mweru and Lufira River basins in the upper Congo River basin.

Eastern Africa: It is present in the Lower Shire River, and Monkey Bay in Lake Malawi (Lake Malawi catchment) after introduction to the Mpatsanjoka dambo (Salima).

Southern Africa: It is found in coastal rivers of Mozambique from the Incomati River north to the Zambezi. It extends upstream into the middle Zambezi and present in the Zambian Congo. Also occurs in arid regions of the Changane system (northern Limpopo River) in Mozambique and extending up into the Gonarezhou National Park in Zimbabwe. Protopterus annectens brieni has been translocated to additional sites in the Kruger National Park in South Africa (Skelton 1993).
Countries occurrence:
Congo, The Democratic Republic of the; Malawi; Mozambique; South Africa; Swaziland; Zambia; Zimbabwe
Additional data:
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:Limited information available but it is reported to be uncommon throughout its range (Bell-Cross and Minshull 1988).
Current Population Trend:Unknown
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:Protopterus annectens brieni is a demersal, air breathing fish. It is usually found in large river systems associated with floodplains or non-perennial tributary streams which flow through flat country (Bell-Cross and Minshull 1988). It has the ability to use gills and lungs to breath in and out of water; when the floods recede it excavates a burrow in shallow water, deep enough to take its body, and by the time the water has disappeared the lungfish is encased in a thin membranous cocoon made from secreted mucus and mud (Bell-Cross and Minshull 1988). The aestivation lasts until the habitat is again filled with water (Skelton 1993). Protopterus annectens brieni preys mainly on slow-moving bottom-dwelling creatures such as snails, insects and worms, but also takes fish and amphibians (Skelton 1993). An U-shaped burrow is excavated to a depth of nearly 60 cm for spawning purposes. The nest is usually placed amongst the roots of aquatic vegetation where the male will attend to several females during the breeding season. He will aerate the eggs with body and fin movements and afford protection to the young for a while after incubation (Bell-Cross and Minshull 1988).

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: In certain more arid regions of Mozambique lungfishes are an important dry season food source. Lungfish are dug up during the height of the dry season when other fish food sources have gone.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Overfishing in Luapula with drawnets could pose a threat to the subspecies. Subsistence fisheries make the subspecies particularly vulnerable in Zimbabwe (Bell-Cross and Minshull 1988). Dams in the main Zambezi River have reduced the size of the Zambezi delta and the influx of nutrients into the lower river. Further damming of the river will exacerbate this threat reducing floodplain habitats. Lower floodplain habitats have been extensively farmed for sugar cane in the Marromeu region which have introduced a suite of threats from loss of habitats to increased human populations and thus increased direct exploitation. Its geographical range remains large despite localised threats.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Since 2007 it has been prohibited to fish in Lake Mweru and the Luapula River on the Congolese site of the border. In Zambia, there is the Kasanka National Park around Lake Bangweulu. The fines didn’t work in this region. Even scientific collections were stopped. The government has burned 10,000 nets after measuring the nets. The governor (Morris Katunge) has paid the fishermen. Since 1st of May 2008, fishing was allowed again, but with controlled mesh sizes. In the Lufira River basin, the subspecies is protected by the National Park of Upemba. It is also protected within National Parks of Zimbabwe (Bell-Cross and Minshull 1988). More research is needed into this subspecies' population numbers and range, habitat status and threats, as well as monitoring and potential conservation measures.

Citation: Bills, R., Kazembe, J., Marshall, B., Moelants, T. & Vreven, E. 2010. Protopterus annectens ssp. brieni. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2010: e.T183101A8033578. . Downloaded on 16 August 2018.
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