14: Trout of Africa: A Mixed Blessing for Its People and the Natural Environment
Dean Impson and Jeremy Shelton
When one considers trout and trout fishing globally, Africa does not usually feature. Rather, one’s thoughts immediately turn to North America, Europe, or Australasia where there are well-established and lucrative trout industries. There are likely many trout enthusiasts in the United States and Europe that are unaware that trout even exist in Africa, let alone native populations!
For the non-African trout enthusiast, images of Africa may include abundant wildlife, rich mineral wealth, but also poverty, disease, and warfare and likely exclude thoughts of trout in African waters. Yet Africa has trout and some countries such as South Africa and Kenya also have substantial industries based on trout. Africa even has native trout, but there is ongoing scientific debate about the number of species present in the continent. Recent research indicates that North Africa may have five species of native trout, which occur in mountainous areas of Morocco and Algeria (Doadrio et al. 2015). Elsewhere in Africa, there are a good number of countries, especially those that were part of the British colonial empire (e.g., South Africa, Kenya, Zimbabwe [previously Rhodesia]), that have thriving populations of introduced trout species.
Trout contribute positively towards local economies in some African countries, and in South Africa and Lesotho, Rainbow Trout Oncorhynchus mykiss are at the heart of a thriving aquaculture sector. Contrastingly, Rainbow Trout and Brown Trout Salmo trutta have established invasive populations in several countries, and negative impacts on native species and ecosystems have been documented.