Cabora Bassa Fish Populations Before and During the First Filling Phase

  • P.B.N. Jackson
  • KH Rogers


Pre-impoundment surveys were made in 1973-4. The regulatory effect of continual water discharge from Kariba resulted in extensive dry-season aquatic, rooted, vegetal growth and a comparatively high small-fish population. Of a maximum of 38 species found one, Sarotherodon andersoni, was a new Middle Zambezi record. Lotic and shallow-water species were abundant; gill-nets showed moderately high catches per unit effort. In early November 1974 two-month-old Hydrocymis vittatus juveniles were present indicating an abnormal spawning time. Post-impoundment data from closure on 5 December 1974, to mid-August 1975 are given. The dam filled extremely rapidly to within 10 m of retention level but was thereafter drawn down by heavy floodgate discharge, resulting in continuous slow water-flow and the absence of any stratification or explosive plankton reproduction. Small lotic species, previously abundant, immediately disappeared or became scarce. There was a very high survival of new-spawned young of many migratory species. Growth rates, and abnormal feeding habits caused by post-impoundment stresses, of some of these are described. There was relatively poor reproduction of cichlid species. Soon after closure the first year-class predominated over all other age-groups; these juveniles, and small adult species, concentrated under mats of Elchhomia crassipes. One further species new to the area, Haplochromis carlottae, is recorded.

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 2224-073X
print ISSN: 1562-7020