Freshwater crayfish invasions in South Africa: past, present and potential future

Published in: African Journal of Aquatic Science
Volume 42, issue 4, 2017, pages: 309–323
DOI: 10.2989/16085914.2017.1405788
Author(s): AL NunesCentre for Invasion Biology, Department of Botany and Zoology, South Africa, TA ZengeyaCentre for Invasion Biology, South Africa, GJ MeaseyCentre for Invasion Biology, Department of Botany and Zoology, South Africa, OLF WeylCentre for Invasion Biology, South Africa


Freshwater crayfish invasions have been studied around the world, but less so in Africa, a continent devoid of native freshwater crayfish. The present study reviews historical and current information on alien freshwater crayfish species introduced into South Africa and aims to indicate which areas are at risk from invasion. As is the case elsewhere, South Africans have shown a keen interest in both farming and keeping freshwater crayfish as pets, which has resulted in Cherax cainii, Cherax destructor, Cherax quadricarinatus and Procambarus clarkii being introduced to the country. There is evidence of successful establishment in the wild for C. quadricarinatus and P. clarkii in different parts of the country. Species distribution models suggest that the eastern part of the country and parts of the Eastern and Western Cape are at higher risk of invasion. At present, illegal translocations represent the most likely pathway of crayfish spread in South Africa. A continued risk of invasion by freshwater crayfish species in South Africa is highlighted, which reinforces the need for more research, as well as for strong mitigation measures, such as stronger policing of existing regulations, management or eradication where feasible and public education.

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