The Northern Africa region extends from the Horn of Africa (Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia), and across to Sudan and Egypt. The region is largely arid and semi-arid, although there are High Mountain streams, rift valleys, highland and crater lakes. There are also large man-made reservoirs, especially along the Nile River, and large rivers in some parts of the region, in particular in South Sudan and Ethiopia. The River Nile, the longest river of the world, is the major feature in this region. Some of the tributaries of the Nile, especially those that are found in southwestern (e.g. Baro Akobo basin), northwestern (e.g. Abay basin) and northern (e.g. Tekeze basin) Ethiopia and those rivers in South Sudan are rich in fish fauna, although many of the highland streams are depauperate.
The fish biodiversity in the Nile Basin is rich, while it is depauperate in the East around the Horn. A complete picture of the fish diversity, especially in the Horn of Africa and the Sudd swamps in Southern Sudan, is still lacking due to the political instability and insecurity in these areas.
About 250 freshwater species are estimated to have been recorded in the region, although some of the freshwater bodies have not yet been intensively studied. The fish species are of mainly Nilo-Sudanic, being shared with fishes of the Central and Western Africa. There are East African forms that are shared with fishes of Eastern Africa region as well as Red Sea coastal fishes that are largely euryhaline. There are also endemic species. The cyprinid fishes dominate much of the streams in the highlands of Ethiopia.
The fish species in this region are highly threatened due to anthropogenic factors, like damming, irrigation projects, drying up of water bodies due to competition for water as well as spread of desertification and climate change.
The cyprinid species flock of the Labeobarbus spp. of Lake Tana is found in this region. These are migratory fish species that spawn in the feeder rivers of Lake Tana. There are some small scale conservation projects to help conserve these species.
There are currently no membership or networks of freshwater fish specialists working in the Northern Africa region. It is a priority to establish such a network.
Bailey, R.G. 1994. Guide to the fishes of the River Nile in the republic of the Sudan. Journal of Natural History 28(4): 937-970. Available here
Dejen, E., Rutjes, R.A., de Graaf, M., Nagelkerke, L.A.J., Osse, J.V.M. and Sibbing, F.A. 2002. The ‚Äúsmall barbs‚Äù Barbus humilis and B. trispilopleura of Lake Tana (Ethiopia): are they ecotypes of the same species? Environmental Biolology of Fishes 65(4): 373-386. Available here
Getahun, A. and Dejen, E. 2012. Fishes of Lake Tana: A Guide Book. Addis Ababa University Press, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Getahun, A. and Stiassny, M.L.J. 1998. The freshwater biodiversity crisis: the case of the Ethiopian fish fauna. SINET: Ethiopian Journal of Science 21(2): 207-230. Available here
Hickley, P. and Bailey, R.G. 1987. Fish communities in the eastern, seasonal floodplain of the Sudd, Southern Sudan. Hydrobiologia 144(3): 243-250. Available here
Sibbing, F.A., Nagelkerke, L.A.J., Stet, R.J.M. and Osse, J.W.M. 1998. Speciation of endemic Lake Tana barbs (Cyprinidae, Ethiopia) driven by trophic resource partitioning; a molecular and ecomorphological approach. Aquatic Ecology 32(3):217-227. Available here
Stiassny, M.L.J. and Getahun, A. 2007. An overview of labeonin relationships and the phylogenetic placement of the Afro-Asian genus Garra Hamilton, 1922 (Teleostei: Cyprinidae), with the description of five new species of Garra from Ethiopia, and a key to all African species. Zoological Journal of Linnaean Society 150(1): 41-83. Available here
Abebe is an Associate Professor and Chairman of the Department of Zoological Sciences, Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia. He obtained his BSc and MSc from Addis Ababa University, and MPhil and PhD from a joint programme of the American Museum of Natural History and the City University of New York in Ecology, Evolution and Behaviour.
His research focuses on diversity and conservation of fishes as well as aquaculture in Ethiopia. He has authored and co-authored over 30 articles in scientific journals and books, and has received several large grants for research purposes (e.g. from Rockefeller Foundation; Development Innovative Fund of the World Bank, FAO).
Abebe is the President of the Pan African Fish and Fisheries Association (2008-2013). He is also the founding member and Vice President of the Ethiopian Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences Association and founding member of the Biological Society of Ethiopia.