Overview of the Zambezi River system: its history, fish fauna, fisheries, and conservation.
The Zambezi River has a catchment area of 1.32 million km2, including parts of eight countries. Three divisions of the river are recognised: the Upper Zambezi separated from the Middle Zambezi by Victoria Falls, and the Lower Zambezi below Cahora Bassa gorge. The Okavango River is also linked to the Upper Zambezi system in wet years in an area of complex geomorphological history. Habitats include forested headwater streams, extensive floodplains, deep gorges, two large man-made lakes and an extensive delta. On floodplains, subsistence fisheries exploit the natural seasonal cycles, while the man-made lakes have commercial-scale fisheries for introduced kapenta, Limnothrissa miodon. Aquaculture is on a small scale, though with larger commercial cage culture enterprises on Lake Kariba. This paper summarises current knowledge on the fish faunas and their origins, the status of the different fisheries and their management, and the conservation status of the river's resources.