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The Lake Victoria Basin

(Lake Victoria and satellite lakes => Lake Kyoga & Nawampasa, Lake Albert, Lake George, Lake Edward, Lake Kivu, Lake Kanyaboli and the Yala Swamp amoung others)

Lake Victoria is connected to the Nile River and is in fact the source of the Nile.  Most hobbyists think of Lake Victoria as one of the rift lakes (like Lake Malawi and Tanganyika) but it is actually a much younger lake that is located in the valley known as the Victorian basin.  It is the second largest lake in the world covering some 27,000 square miles.  In the 1950's the British introduced the nile perch (Latus nicloticis) into the lake as a food fish which spawned a fishing industry that feeds a great many people in Africa.  Unfortunately, the nile perch grows to 6 ft long and 200 lbs by feeding upon other fish, and this has decimated most species of Victorian Haplochromides.  Considerable deforestation occured to provide the firewood to smoke the fish.  The deforestation lead to erosion and agricultural runoff into the lake.  As the population increased around the lake contaminants from human and industrial waste were also introduced into the lake.  This caused a boom in the growth of algae and the water hyacinth, which blocks the sunlight and decreases the level of oxygen in the water.  The once clear waters are now very murky. It is thought that the murky waters are contributing to hybridization.  Half of the cichlids species are already thought to be extinct and the rest are endangered species unless they still thrive in one of the satellite lakes.  In response to the problem, zoos and aquariums in the US and Europe created the "Lake Victoria Species Survival Program" to maintain these endangered species.  

It is for this reason, that we as cichlid hobbyists, need to prevent hybridization so that the limited bloodlines available to us are kept as pure as possible.  Since Lake Victoria is a relatively young lake many of the species are not very distinct from one another and they will hybridize rather easily.  It seems that the Nile Perch population has reached some sort of equilibrium as they've reduced the population of their food source.  A bit of over-fishing in the lake also took it's toll on the Nile Perch.  Occasionally, a species thought to be extinct is found.  I guess we'll see what mother nature has in store for the future of the lakes inhabitants.