Cajun Crayfish Invading Africa, Eating Native Species
by Ochieng’ Ogodo
It’s a far cry from Cajun country, but a U.S. crayfish used in Southern cooking is now eating its way across Africa, scientists say. Without any native predators to keep it in check, the Louisiana crayfish, also known as the red swamp crayfish, is gobbling up small freshwater fish, fish eggs, mollusks, crustaceans, and aquatic plants.
The 6 in. long (15 cm) invader is already widely distributed in lakes and other bodies of water throughout Kenya, as well as in Rwanda, Uganda, Egypt, Zambia, the Seychelles, Mauritius, and South Africa. Conservationists are now concerned the crayfish will reach the East African lakes of Malawi, Tanganyika, and Victoria, which are home to hundreds—and probably thousands—of species found nowhere else.
"By removing animals and plants from wetlands, [the crayfish] can upset the balance of ecosystems and reduce valuable ecosystem functions," said Geoffrey Howard, global coordinator for invasive species for the Species Programme of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)…
(read more: National Geo)
(photo: David Keith Jones, Images of Africa Photobank/Alamy)