Ecology of the Critically Endangered Singidia Tilapia (Teleostei: Cichlidae: Oreochromis esculentus) of lake Kayanja, Uganda and its conservation implications

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Richard Olwa
Herbert Nakiyende
Elias Muhumuza
Samuel Bassa
Anthony Taabu-Munyaho
Winnie Nkalubo


Singidia Tilapia Oreochromis esculentus is a Critically Endangered native tilapia fish species endemic to lakes Victoria and Kyoga basins of East Africa, however, it disappeared from these main lakes due to overfishing, environmental degradation and predation by the introduced Nile Perch Lates niloticus.  Remnant populations of this fish species is now restricted to satellite lakes including Lake Kayanja of the Victoria basin.  This study provides updated information about the population abundance, critical habitat, threats and diet of Singidia Tilapia to inform conservation decisions to revive its populations in the wild.  Fish data collection and mapping of nursery and breeding habitats of Singidia Tilapia on Lake Kayanja was conducted between February 2016 and October 2017.  In all the areas mapped and sampled, Singidia Tilapia (with a size range of 11–27 cm TL) was the most abundant (43%) relative to exotic Nile Tilapia Oreochromis niloticus (21%) and Redbelly Tilapia Coptodon zillii (36%).  The emergence of introduced (exotic) tilapias like Nile Tilapia recorded in this study could be attributed to cage fish farming being carried out in this Lake.  The diet of Oreochromis esculentus consisted mainly of detritus (60.8 %), plant materials (27.7%) and blue-green algae (5.5%).  Destruction of critical habitats and presence of introduced fish species were noted as the major threats to this fish and its habitats.  The generated information could contribute to guiding stakeholders to undertake appropriate actions to conserve this threatened fish species and its habitats.

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Olwa, R., Nakiyende , H., Muhumuza , E. , Bassa, S. , Taabu-Munyaho, A. and Nkalubo, W. 2020. Ecology of the Critically Endangered Singidia Tilapia (Teleostei: Cichlidae: Oreochromis esculentus) of lake Kayanja, Uganda and its conservation implications. Journal of Threatened Taxa. 12, 10 (Jul. 2020), 16251–16256. DOI:


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