Gilled African lungfish
|Gilled African lungfish|
(W. K. H. Peters, 1844)
The gilled African lungfish (Protopterus amphibius), also known as the East African lungfish, is a species of African lungfish. It is found in swamps and flood plains of East Africa, where positively identified from Kenya, Somalia and Mozambique. Records from Tanzania require confirmation and may be the result of introductions.
Protopterus amphibius generally only reaches a length of 44 cm (17 in), making it the smallest extant lungfish. This lungfish is uniform blue, or slate grey in colour. It has small or inconspicuous black spots and a pale grey belly. Like all African lungfish it has two lungs and is an obligate air-breather. Also like all other African lungfish it is able to burrow and form a mucous cocoon for protection in a process known as estivation.
The gilled African lungfish is a primarily demersal fish, living largely within the riverbeds of the Zambezi River system of East Africa. It also inhabits similar areas in the wetlands of the region.
The Gilled African lungfish is listed as Least Concern, partially because reported numbers are high and partially because of the lack of data. It is eaten for food by some natives of the area however the numbers lost to this practice are very small. More dangerous threats are the damming of the Zambezi, which will reduce the size of the delta in which the fish live, and pollution in areas that the fish inhabit as well as encroachment of wetlands for agriculture that reduces the available habitat.
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