Restoring a river to conserve the Critically Endangered Doring Fiery Redfin
Freshwater fish are the most threatened species group in South Africa and the Western Cape Province is at the epicenter of South Africa’s freshwater fish emergency, with a higher proportion of threatened endemic freshwater fish than anywhere else in the country, and perhaps the continent. Threats include anthropogenic impacts on water quality and water quantity, climate change and invasive species, but predation non-native fish is recognized as the top threat to the regions’ endemic freshwater fishes. Urgent conservation action is needed to restore priority aquatic ecosystems and safe guard threatened species from extinction.
The Breekkrans River Restoration Project aims to mechanically remove alien spotted bass from 8km of the otherwise-pristine Breekkrans River to increase the range of the Critically Endangered Doring fiery redfin from 2km to 10km.
The project, which involves constructing a barrier weir to prevent bass reinvasion after clearing, and comprehensive monitoring and communication components, will substantially improve the conservation status of the Doring fiery redfin. The project will reclaim habitat for five co-occurring native freshwater fishes, build freshwater conservation capacity and create an employment opportunity for local community members. The first step of the project is trimming riparian vegetation to open up the river channel and expose all pools in the river to enable effective manual eradication of bass.