Abstract:

Surveillance surveys conducted towards the development of a Species Monitoring Programme for the threatened Southern Barred Minnow Opsaridium peringueyi in the Phongolo River

Robert J Karssing

Twenty four freshwater fish species in South Africa (ca. 11 %) are currently rare or endangered because of dam building and water abstraction (Skelton, 2001). Surveillance surveys have been conducted by the Biodiversity Research & Assessment Division of Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife to assess the current distribution of Southern Barred Minnow Opsaridium peringueyi in the Phongolo River. Preliminary results suggest a significant decline in the historical distribution of O. peringueyi with the greatest population densities now residing within tributaries surrounding the western region of Ithala Game Reserve. The demise of O.peringueyi within the Phongolo catchment is primarily linked to the intensive irrigation of sugar cane and other land uses practices that threaten in-stream water quantity and quality. Results suggest that the pristine riparian zone surrounding Ithala Game Reserve represents an important Critical Biodiversity Area for the conservation and continued persistence of O. peringueyi populations within the Phongolo River. O.peringueyi is reported as being potentially extinct in Zimbabwe (Skelton, 2001) and regionally extinct in Gauteng (Bills et al., 2007). Venter et al. (2010) found healthy but relatively small populations of O. peringueyi in the middle reaches of the Luvuvhu, Blyde and Sabie Rivers. They report that O. peringueyi has most likely become extinct in the Shingdwezi and Lower Olifants River. The current status of O. peringueyi in the Crocodile and Komati Rivers is also uncertain (Venter et al., 2010).  Venter et al. (2010) also suggest that the distribution of O. peringueyi may have shrunk by more than 50%. Our findings in the Phongolo River notably concur with those of Venter.

Presentation Topic

Surveillance surveys conducted towards the development of a Species Monitoring Programme for the threatened Southern Barred Minnow Opsaridium peringueyi in the Phongolo River

 

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Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, P.O.Box 13053, Cascades, 3202

 

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