Original Articles

Flagships and fragments — perspectives on the conservation of freshwater fishes in southern Africa


Fishes are relatively conspicuous inhabitants of freshwaters and therefore provide a useful means to monitor and relate aquatic conservation problems to the public. Human attitudes to the conservation of fishes and freshwaters have changed radically over the past 100 years. Three case histories illustrating the growth and development of conservation of freshwater fishes in southern Africa are presented. The Maloti minnow, discovered and described in 1938, was considered possibly extinct in the 1960s. Its rediscovery in high altitude streams in Lesotho and subsequent research on its biology and ecology established it as an icon of conservation for a nation whose development and well-being depends largely on its freshwater resources. The Clanwilliam yellowfish population has declined markedly over the past fifty years. Efforts to conserve the species illustrate the changing directions, frustrations and problems of riverine conservation in recent times. The illusions and problems of alien fish introductions provide a third dramatic example to illustrate the state of fish conservation at the end of the 20th Century.

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