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Lake Profile

Rukwa

General Information

Description Lake Rukwa lies in a tropical and wet ecoregion and has a large floodplain (about 1,300 square km) along the northern shore that is inundated during the rainy season. During the rainy season several ephemeral rivers flow into the lake along with the major tributaries.
Country Tanzania
Latitude -7° 50' 0" (-7.8333)
Longitude 32° 9' 35" (32.1600)

Maps

 Lakes of East Africa
 Africa Lake Biodiversity Conservation Priorities 2003

Physical Characteristics

Description Lake Rukwa is an inland drainage sink in the southwest corner of Tanzania, with no outlets. Older maps show the lake in two parts, but the lake has been rising since the late 1980's. Major rivers draining into the lake include the Rungwa, Momba, Lupa, Chambua and Songwe rivers.

The northern basin is quite shallow and occasionally dries out. The southern basin reaches maximum depths of 15 meters.

Depth Mean depth: 4.0 m
Origin Tectonic
Type Saline
Permanent
Natural

Socio-Political

Economic Value
Major Cities

Watershed Management

Description
Issues Population growth in the watershed has led to increases in agricultural runoff and increased erosion from grazing.

Two fish species have been introduced to Lake Rukwa (Oreochromis esculentus and Tilapia rendalli). It is unclear what the impact of these invasives will be on native lake species.

Invasive Species Limited Impact
Other Issues Erosion
Watershed habitat alteration
Monitoring

Biodiversity Conservation

Description Lake Rukwa has two unusual groups of endemic fish species (species flocks) and large numbers of waterbirds. Up to 80,000 breeding great white pelican (Pelecanus onocrotalus) use the lake each year.

Although the eastern side of the lake is backed up against the eastern side of the rift valley with deep water, the western shore of the lake is shallow and ideal crocodile habitat. Permits to hunt crocodile have been issued repeatedly for Lake Rukwa and almost 400 have been killed from 1994 to 1996.

Much of the lake is part of the Uwanda Game Reserve.

Designations
Species of Concern
Endemism High
Invasive Species Level Present

Documents

Resources

Crop Explorer - Global Reservoir and Lake Elevation Monitoring
Crop Explorer - Lake Level Variations from TOPEX/POSEIDON and Jason-1 Altimetry for Lake Rukwa
Historical and Modern Fluctuations of Lakes Tanganyika and Rukwa and their Relationship to Rainfall Variability
ILEC Database

Additional Data Sources

Birkett, C., and I. Mason. 1995. A new global lakes database for remote sensing programme studying climatically sensitive large lakes. Journal of Great Lakes Research, 21 (3) 307-318.
International Lake Environment Committee, the United Nations Environment Program and Environment Agency, Government of Japan. 1997. World Lakes Database.

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