Freshwater Biodiversity in the Lake Victoria Basin-priorities for conservation action
76% of freshwater species endemic to the basin are threatened with extinction, and the risk of species extinctions is increasing. Without immediate action, much of this unique biodiversity will be lost and the livelihoods of many people in the basin will be negatively impacted. Pollution, biological resource use, agriculture and invasive species are the primary threats to freshwater species within the basin. Additionally, the region’s freshwater fishes are particularly vulnerable to climate change. There is a severe lack of basic information on the distribution and status of many freshwater species within the basin. Baseline surveys and long-term monitoring programmes for freshwater species are urgently required to support management of this important but neglected biodiversity resource. Freshwater biodiversity is poorly represented within protected areas in the basin, and where freshwater species are present management actions often fail to consider their conservation. It is recommended that protected areas are designated and managed for the conservation and sustainable use of freshwater species. 39 freshwater Key Biodiversity Areas (KBAs) have been identified and represent important sites for the global persistence of freshwater biodiversity. Site-scale conservation, focussed on freshwater KBAs, can help to guide conservation of freshwater species in the region.