Protopterus annectens ssp. annectens 


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Sarcopterygii Lepidosireniformes Protopteridae

Scientific Name: Protopterus annectens ssp. annectens
Species Authority: (Owen, 1839)
Parent Species:
Common Name(s):
English West African Lungfish
Taxonomic Notes: Also reported as Protopterus annectens annectens. The taxonomic status of the Kenyan populations is unclear (Seegers et al. unpublished). The form found in the Congo River basin and southern Africa is a subspecies: Protopterus annectens brieni

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2010
Date Assessed: 2009-05-01
Assessor(s): Entsua-Mensah, M., Getahun, A., Lalèyè, P. & Ntakimazi, G.
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 eastern and western Africa, though it is believed that populations are declining. Due to a lack of information on this species distribution and status, it is categorized as Data Deficient for northeastern Africa.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:This is a widespread subspecies found from Senegal to Somalia, and south to Tanzania.

Eastern Africa: It is found in the Lower Tana River (Seegers et al. unpublished) and Malagarazi delta.

Northeast Africa: It occurs in Giuhar (Benadir), Webishebelle, Somali. It is also reported from temporary tributaries of the Chari River in the Kordofan area of western Sudan.

Western Africa: This subspecies is known from Senegal, Niger, Gambia, Volta and Chad basins, Bandama and Comoé basins in Côte d'Ivoire and certain basins of Sierra Leone and Guinea.
Countries occurrence:
Benin; Burkina Faso; Cameroon; Central African Republic; Chad; Congo, The Democratic Republic of the; Côte d'Ivoire; Gambia; Guinea; Kenya; Mali; Niger; Nigeria; Senegal; Somalia; Sudan; Tanzania, United Republic of; Togo
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:No data on population trends.
Current Population Trend:Unknown
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:This subspecies is found in marginal swamps and backwaters of rivers and lakes (Dankwa et al. 1999). It is carnivorous, feeding on molluscs (Dankwa et al. 1999), frogs, fish, crabs and insecta (Reed 1967). It normally lives on flood plains and when these dry up, during the dry season, it secretes a thin slime around itself which dries into a fragile cocoon. It can exist in this state for over a year, although normally it hibernates only from the end of one wet season to the start of the next (Holden and Reed 1972). Young ones have four pairs of external gills.

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: This fish is harvested for human consumption, and for the aquarium trade.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): This subspecies holds minor commercial importance in fisheries, and is also targeted for the aquarium trade. Loss of wetlands due to agricultural expansion threatens this subspecies in eastern Africa. In western Africa, populations are threatened by deforestation and drought.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: No information available. Population trends should be monitored, and habitat conservation is required.

Classifications [top]

5. Wetlands (inland) -> 5.1. Wetlands (inland) - Permanent Rivers/Streams/Creeks (includes waterfalls)
suitability: Marginal  
5. Wetlands (inland) -> 5.2. Wetlands (inland) - Seasonal/Intermittent/Irregular Rivers/Streams/Creeks
suitability: Marginal  
5. Wetlands (inland) -> 5.4. Wetlands (inland) - Bogs, Marshes, Swamps, Fens, Peatlands
suitability: Suitable  
5. Wetlands (inland) -> 5.5. Wetlands (inland) - Permanent Freshwater Lakes (over 8ha)
suitability: Marginal  
5. Wetlands (inland) -> 5.6. Wetlands (inland) - Seasonal/Intermittent Freshwater Lakes (over 8ha)
suitability: Marginal  
5. Wetlands (inland) -> 5.7. Wetlands (inland) - Permanent Freshwater Marshes/Pools (under 8ha)
suitability: Suitable  
5. Wetlands (inland) -> 5.8. Wetlands (inland) - Seasonal/Intermittent Freshwater Marshes/Pools (under 8ha)
suitability: Suitable  
5. Wetlands (inland) -> 5.13. Wetlands (inland) - Permanent Inland Deltas
suitability: Suitable  
2. Land/water management -> 2.1. Site/area management

In-Place Research, Monitoring and Planning
In-Place Land/Water Protection and Management
In-Place Species Management
In-Place Education
2. Agriculture & aquaculture -> 2.1. Annual & perennial non-timber crops -> 2.1.4. Scale Unknown/Unrecorded
♦ timing: Past, Unlikely to Return    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

5. Biological resource use -> 5.3. Logging & wood harvesting -> 5.3.5. Motivation Unknown/Unrecorded
♦ timing: Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

9. Pollution -> 9.3. Agricultural & forestry effluents -> 9.3.2. Soil erosion, sedimentation
♦ timing: Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

11. Climate change & severe weather -> 11.2. Droughts
♦ timing: Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

3. Monitoring -> 3.1. Population trends

♦  Food - human
 Local : ✓   National : ✓ 

♦  Pets/display animals, horticulture
 National : ✓  International : ✓ 

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: (Accessed: 2 September 2010).

Citation: Entsua-Mensah, M., Getahun, A., Lalèyè, P. & Ntakimazi, G. 2010. Protopterus annectens ssp. annectens. In: The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2010: e.T183112A8037847. . Downloaded on 01 December 2015.
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