Fishes of the highlands and escarpments of Angola and Namibia


  • PH Skelton Wild Bird Trust, National Geographic Okavango Conservation Project; Honorary Research Associate, National Research Foundation, South African Institute for Aquatic Biodiversity, Makhanda, South Africa


Angola, escarpment, fishes, highlands, Namibia


The fishes of the highlands and escarpments of Angola and Namibia (HEAN) are described broadly and a brief biogeographical explanation sketched. The fishes of this region are poorly documented in the literature and few records are available. Species of the families Kneriidae, Mormyridae, Cyprinidae, Danionidae, Amphiliidae, Clariidae, Mochokidae, Cichlidae and Mastacembelidae are highlighted and noted. An extraordinary radiation of Labeobarbus in the Cuanza River is a distinct feature. Two river systems in western Angola and Namibia, the Cuanza and the Cunene, extend from the interior down the escarpment to the coast and their fish faunas are considerably enriched. Affinities of the various taxa are pointed out including signature links with the southern Congo River basin, and East Africa. West African connections via the coast or the Congo Basin are sparse. West Zambezian faunal links are strongest but generally restricted to elements that favour rocky environments. The fishes of typical Kalahari sand systems, such as floodplains and swamps, are absent. Isolated and fragmented distributions of certain elements attest to relict situations indicative of early, more favourable, widespread distributions.