Lake Tanganyika is one of the most unique biological habitats on earth with almost 90% of the species occurring there found nowhere else on earth. Its great age and stability have provided a means for evolution and adaptability to showcase Mother Nature’s extraordinary ability to utilise every available resource.
Almost 1/6th of the entire available surface freshwater in the world is found in this amazing body of water that is also the world’s longest and second deepest lake.
The abundance of nutrients and subsequent abundance of prey planktonic species, coupled with the extreme age of the lake have allowed it to become a hotspot of biodiversity. Several studies have revealed that populations of several species, including mastecembelid eels and the cichlid fish, have exhibited adaptive radiation to levels hardly seen in nature.
As studies continue to be done, more and more will be learned about speciation, and how it is driven by abiotic and biotic influences. The more we learn about our world around us, the better we can understand our own species, which will further our knowledge of how the world around us came to exist.
Lake Tanganyika’s astonishing diversity is a showcase for the wonders of natural evolution.
Tanganyika’s astonishing productivity has sustained humans for millennia, one of the oldest sites showing human use of fire is situated in the escarpment above Tanganyika and today it is estimated that 20 million people derive their protein requirements directly from the Lake.
A well managed Lake Tanganyika can provide many of the needs for generations to come.
Unfortunately like so many other rare and sensitive environments the effects of overfishing, global warming, bad practices and the bush meat trade has meant that Lake Tanganyika and its surrounds are finally feeling the pressure and the ongoing health of the system is at risk. The loss of such a distinctive ecosystem is not something that humans can afford.
Surface area: 32,600 km²
Size of the watershed: approximately 231,000 km² (not including Lake Kivu)
Altitude of surface: 773 meters above sea level
Max. length: 650 km
Mean width: 50 km
Max width: 80 km
Max depth: 1470 m
Mean depth: 570 m
Volume: 18,880 km3
Length of shoreline: 1,838 km
Major inflows: Malagarasi River (Tanzania, Burundi), Ruzizi River (Burundi)
Outflow: Lukuga River (DRC, only outflow)