Hydrocynus vittatus 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Actinopterygii Characiformes Alestidae

Scientific Name: Hydrocynus vittatus
Species Authority: Castelnau, 1861
Regional Assessments:
Common Name(s):
English Tigerfish, Ndweshi, Tiger Fish
Taxonomic Source(s): Eschmeyer, W.N., Fricke, R. and Van der Laan, R. (eds). 2016. Catalog of Fishes: genera, species, references. Updated 2 August 2016. Available at: http://researcharchive.calacademy.org/research/ichthyology/catalog/fishcatmain.asp. (Accessed: 2 August 2016).
Taxonomic Notes: This species is close to H. forskalii, but has black markings (at tip of adipose dorsal fin and fork of caudal fin) that are lacking in that species. Furthermore, the rayed dorsal fin is not positioned as far forwards as in H. forskalii. The synonymy of H. vittatus with H. forskalii proposed by Brewster (1986) does not appear well founded (Paugy and Guégan 1989).

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2010
Date Assessed: 2009-05-01
Assessor(s): Azeroual, A., Bills, R., Cambray, J., Getahun, A., Hanssens, M., Marshall, B., Moelants, T. & Tweddle, D.
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. Although it is locally depleted by heavy fishing pressure, it is generally common and abundant, and is therefore listed as Least Concern. It has also been assessed regionally as Least Concern for central, eastern, north eastern, southern and western Africa.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:Hydrocynus vittatus is known from most of sub-Saharan Africa from Senegal to Ethiopia, and south to South Africa.

Central Africa: Hydrocynus vittatus is found throughout the Congo River basin. In Lower Guinea, it is found in the Cross and Sanaga basins.

Eastern Africa: This species is known from Lake Tanganyika and major affluent rivers, including Malagarasi river, as well as Lake Albert and Murchison Nile, Lake Turkana (Seegers et al. 2003) and Lake Rukwa. It is also present in the Lower Shire river, Rufigi and Ruaha Rivers. According to Hopson and Hopson (1982) in the Turkana Basin this species is principally riverine and ecological changes in the lake level have tended to inhibit incursions of H. vittatus into the lake. However, an erroneous identification by Worthington and Ricardo (1936) for H. forskahlii is also possible. In the latter case H. vittatus most likely does not occur in Kenya (Seegers et al. 2004).

Northeast Africa: It is present in the Ghazal and Jebel systems, White and Blue Niles, and Nile to Lake Nasser (also known as Lake Nubia).

Southern Africa: It occurs in the Zambezi and Okavango (but not the Kafue or Lake Malawi), south to the Save, Limpopo and Phongolo systems (Skelton 2001). It has also been found in Lake Kariba (Losse 1998).

Western Africa: In West Africa, this species occurs in the basins of the Chad, Niger/Benue, Ouémé, and Senegal.
Countries occurrence:
Angola (Angola); Benin; Botswana; Burkina Faso; Burundi; Cameroon; Central African Republic; Chad; Congo; Congo, The Democratic Republic of the; Ethiopia; Ghana; Guinea; Kenya; Malawi; Mali; Mozambique; Namibia; Niger; Nigeria; Senegal; South Africa; South Sudan; Sudan; Swaziland; Tanzania, United Republic of; Togo; Uganda; Zambia; Zimbabwe
Additional data:
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:This species is generally common and widespread. In Lake Kariba on the Middle Zambezi River, its population fluctuated considerably, mostly in relation to the abundance of the introduced clupeid Limnothrissa miodon which now forms a major part of its diet (Kenmuir 1973, Marshall 1985). It is commercially exploited in Lake Rukwa, forming about 3.9% of the yield. In Mtera dam, species composition in the catches show a decline from 26.1% in 1987 to 14.3% in 1991, and 7% in 1996.
Current Population Trend:Unknown
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:Hydrocynus vittatus is a demersal, potamodromous species. It prefers warm, well-oxygenated water, mainly larger rivers and lakes. All but the largest form roving schools of like-sized fish; aptly described as fierce and voracious. Hydrocynus vittatus feeds on whatever prey is most abundant but Brycinus, Micralestes, Barbus, and Limnothrissa are favoured (Skelton 1993). It is a useful food fish in some areas (Eccles 1992). Breeding takes pace on a very few days each year, when the first good rains have swollen rivers and streams, usually in December and January at which time it undertakes a spawning migration up rivers and into small streams (Jackson 1961). The females spawn a great number of eggs in very shallow water, among the stems of grasses and other submerged and partly submerged vegetation and here the young live until the falling of the flood water forces them out of this refuge (Jackson 1961).
Movement patterns:Full Migrant

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: This species is marketable when caught.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Tigerfish have declined in some rivers in southern Africa due to pollution, water abstraction and obstructions such as dams and weirs that prevent passage. Unregulated gillnet fisheries locally threaten the species. East African populations are threatened by heavy fishing pressure, silt loading due to agricultural activities/ deforestation, and pollution due to pesticides for agricultural use. Threats from other regions are not known.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: This species is protected in some reserves in southern Africa. It has been successfully artificially bred in captivity (Skelton 2001). Management of local gillnet fisheries is needed in many riverine fisheries, as is construction of fishways around weirs and dams.

Classifications [top]

15. Artificial/Aquatic & Marine -> 15.1. Artificial/Aquatic - Water Storage Areas (over 8ha)
5. Wetlands (inland) -> 5.13. Wetlands (inland) - Permanent Inland Deltas
5. Wetlands (inland) -> 5.8. Wetlands (inland) - Seasonal/Intermittent Freshwater Marshes/Pools (under 8ha)
5. Wetlands (inland) -> 5.7. Wetlands (inland) - Permanent Freshwater Marshes/Pools (under 8ha)
5. Wetlands (inland) -> 5.6. Wetlands (inland) - Seasonal/Intermittent Freshwater Lakes (over 8ha)
5. Wetlands (inland) -> 5.5. Wetlands (inland) - Permanent Freshwater Lakes (over 8ha)
5. Wetlands (inland) -> 5.2. Wetlands (inland) - Seasonal/Intermittent/Irregular Rivers/Streams/Creeks
5. Wetlands (inland) -> 5.1. Wetlands (inland) - Permanent Rivers/Streams/Creeks (includes waterfalls)
2. Land/water management -> 2.1. Site/area management
2. Land/water management -> 2.3. Habitat & natural process restoration
3. Species management -> 3.1. Species management -> 3.1.1. Harvest management

In-Place Research, Monitoring and Planning
In-Place Land/Water Protection and Management
In-Place Species Management
In-Place Education
11. Climate change & severe weather -> 11.2. Droughts
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

5. Biological resource use -> 5.4. Fishing & harvesting aquatic resources -> 5.4.6. Motivation Unknown/Unrecorded
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

7. Natural system modifications -> 7.2. Dams & water management/use -> 7.2.11. Dams (size unknown)
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

7. Natural system modifications -> 7.2. Dams & water management/use -> 7.2.8. Abstraction of ground water (unknown use)
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

9. Pollution -> 9.1. Domestic & urban waste water -> 9.1.3. Type Unknown/Unrecorded
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

9. Pollution -> 9.2. Industrial & military effluents -> 9.2.3. Type Unknown/Unrecorded
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

9. Pollution -> 9.3. Agricultural & forestry effluents -> 9.3.4. Type Unknown/Unrecorded
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

1. Research -> 1.2. Population size, distribution & trends
1. Research -> 1.3. Life history & ecology
1. Research -> 1.5. Threats
1. Research -> 1.6. Actions
3. Monitoring -> 3.1. Population trends

♦  Food - human
 Local : ✓   National : ✓ 

Bibliography [top]

Pan-Africa freshwater assessment references. Currently, full citations for references used in the Pan-Africa biodiversity assessments are unavailable on the Red List web site. These will be added to the site in 2011. We apologise for any inconvenience this causes.

IUCN. 2010. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (ver. 2010.3). Available at: http://www.iucnredlist.org. (Accessed: 2 September 2010).

Citation: Azeroual, A., Bills, R., Cambray, J., Getahun, A., Hanssens, M., Marshall, B., Moelants, T. & Tweddle, D. 2010. Hydrocynus vittatus. In: The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2010: e.T181744A7720731. . Downloaded on 24 May 2017.
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