The inland waters of southern Africa support a high diversity of aquatic species with high levels of endemism. Many of these species provide direct (e.g. fisheries) and indirect (e.g. water purification) benefits to people. The conservation of these species is most important to the livelihoods and economies of the regions’ people.
Current levels of threat across the region are relatively low with 7% of species threatened. However, predicted future levels of threat, in particular due to development of water resources, are very high. The level of threat to species in South Africa is higher than in other countries. Steps will need to be taken to minimize or mitigate for predicted impacts to the regions’ freshwater species.
Data on the distributions, conservation status, and ecology of all 762 known species of fishes, molluscs, odonates, crabs, and 517 selected species of aquatic plants are now freely available through this project and the IUCN Red List website to inform conservation and development planners.
The current network of protected areas is not designed for protection of freshwater species with many falling outside of any protected area. Future protected areas must be designed for the effective conservation of freshwater species.
The data made available through this assessment must be integrated within the decision-making processes in planning for the conservation and development of inland water resources. Lack of available information should no longer be given as a reason for inadequate consideration for development impacts to freshwater species.
Species information remains very limited for many parts of the region with Angola and Mozambique, in particular, identified as priorities for future field survey. Information on the status and distribution of aquatic plants needs to be greatly improved throughout the region.