Clarias cavernicola 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Actinopterygii Siluriformes Clariidae

Scientific Name: Clarias cavernicola Trewavas, 1936
Common Name(s):
English Cave Catfish

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Critically Endangered B1ab(iii)+2ab(iii) ver 3.1
Year Published: 2007
Date Assessed: 2007-03-01
Assessor(s): Bills, R.
Reviewer(s): Snoeks, J. (Freshwater Fish Red List Authority) & Darwall, W. (Freshwater Biodiversity Assessment Unit)
Occurs in a single location (Aigamas Cave, Namibia). There is a threat to the cave's water source and thus to the species environment from ground water extraction. The potential threat of illegal collectors for the aquarium trade also exists. Given that the area of the lake is 18 m X 2.5 m and that the water level has been steadily dropping due to water extraction the species qualifies as Critically Endangered under criterion B due to restricted range, single location and ongoing decline in the extent of available habitat.
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:Known only from the type locality: Aigamas Cave, Otavi, Namibia. The pool is 18 m by 2.5 m in area, and 30 to 52 m deep (Proudlove 2006).
Countries occurrence:
Additional data:
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Current Population Trend:Unknown
Additional data:

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:Subterranean waters of the Aigamas cave system. Rocky substrates. Water temperature is around 25°C and the species appears to live over shelves of shallow water up to 15 m in depth (Proudlove 2006).

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Depletion of ground water; the cave lake has been used as a water supply in an otherwise very dry area (Proudlove 2006). Pumping of water has reduced the depth of the lake from 70 m to 50 m since 1921 (Skelton 1990, Bruton 1995). Potentially exploitation from aquarists.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Control of water extraction. Collections of fishes regulated by permits.

Classifications [top]

5. Wetlands (inland) -> 5.18. Wetlands (inland) - Karst and Other Subterranean Hydrological Systems (inland)

In-Place Research, Monitoring and Planning
In-Place Land/Water Protection and Management
  Occur in at least one PA:Yes
In-Place Species Management
In-Place Education
5. Biological resource use -> 5.4. Fishing & harvesting aquatic resources -> 5.4.1. Intentional use: (subsistence/small scale) [harvest]
♦ timing:Future    
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

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

1. Research -> 1.2. Population size, distribution & trends
1. Research -> 1.3. Life history & ecology
1. Research -> 1.5. Threats

Bibliography [top]

Bruton, M. 1995. Threatened fishes of the world: Clarias cavernicola Trewavas, 1936 (Clariidae). Environmental Biology of Fishes 43: 162.

Groombridge, B. (ed.). 1994. 1994 IUCN Red List of Threatened Animals. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK.

IUCN. 1990. IUCN Red List of Threatened Animals. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK.

IUCN. 2007. 2007 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Available at: (Accessed: 12th September 2007).

IUCN Conservation Monitoring Centre. 1986. 1986 IUCN Red List of Threatened Animals. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK.

IUCN Conservation Monitoring Centre. 1988. IUCN Red List of Threatened Animals. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK.

Proudlove, G.S. 2006. Subterranean Fishes of the World. An account of the subterranean (hypogean) fishes described up to 2003, with a bibliography 1541-2004. International Society for Subterranean Biology, Moulis.

Skelton, P.H. 1987. South African Red Data Book - Fishes. South African National Scientific Programmes Report 137. Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, Pretoria.

Skelton, P.H. 1990a. The conservation and status of threatened fishes in southern Africa. Journal of Fish Biology 37(A): 87-95.

Skelton, P.H. 1990b. The status of fishes from the sink-holes and caves in Namibia. Journal of the Namibian Scientific Society 42: 75-83.

Skelton, P.H. 1990c. The status of fishes from sinkholes and caves in Namibia. Bulletin of the South African Speleological Association 31: 77-82.

Skelton, P.H. 2001. A Complete Guide to the Freshwater Fishes of Southern Africa. Struik Publishers, Cape Town, South Africa.

Citation: Bills, R. 2007. Clarias cavernicola. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2007: e.T63363A12662977. . Downloaded on 21 May 2018.
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