TANZANIA 1995

Part 2. Dar es Salaam to Arusha
Ian Sainthouse

 
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locality TAN 95/12 Locality TAN 95/12

We had planned to spend two nights in Dar es Salaam taking a day to make a circular trip around Bagamoyo, Msata, Chalinze and back to Dar. Bagamoyo is a town on the coast 75km. north of Dar. In its heyday during the last century, it was the starting point for various exploration trips into the interior, including those of Livingstone and Stanley. The body of Livingstone, who died in what is now central Zambia, was carried back to Bagamoyo by two of his servants, a journey of about a year. Here it remained until it was shipped back to England. Bagamoyo was a centre for the slave trade and for a short period was the capital of German East Africa. Today a lot of the original buildings still exist in the town centre but are deteriorating rapidly due to lack of care and maintenance.



locality TAN 95/13 Locality TAN 95/13

The road to Bagamoyo passes through the built up suburbs of Dar and the coastal holiday hotel zone before coming to more rural environs. The only stop we made along this road was at Zinga where a permanent stream ran underneath the road, To the west was a large plantation of palm trees. This stream yielded cichlids, gobies, etc., as well as killifish. Although it was clearly permanent water it contained N. melanospilus which we did not bother to collect. There were other killifish in the same water – Lampeyes - more specifically Aplocheilichthys maculatus. We found some considerable variation between individuals of this population such that some doubt could be cast on the status of Aplo. lacustris, which was originally described as sub species of Aplo. maculatus and subsequently separated into a species in its own right.

We passed through Bagamoyo taking the road that would lead us to the ferry across the Ruvu River estuary. Soon we found ourselves on a road that was only one vehicle wide on an embankment. The land on either side was a flat grassy plain. Eventually we saw a little water so stopped and got out the nets. The vegetation was coarse grass and scrub making it difficult to get a net into the water. Although not common we found both N. melanospilus and N. janpapi and then another of the fish that was on our list of ‘wants’. It may come as a surprise to a lot of people when I say that the fish was N. foerschi.

locality Tan 95/14 Locality TAN 95/13

The reason we were so interested in finding this fish was that, so far as we were aware, there had never been a verifiable collection of this fish. Originally it was described from material that had arrived in a commercial import. It was thought that it originated in the vicinity of Dar es Salaam. Eggers reported finding N. foerschi near the Rufiji River Camp but this cannot be confirmed, as there is apparently no photographic evidence or specimens available. Until it can be established otherwise, this collection, between Bagamoyo and the Ruvu ferry, could be regarded as being the first confirmed locality for this species. Another Nothobranchius species was found at this locality. Visually there was some similarity to N. foerschi but where it differed was that it had feint vertical lines on the sides of both the male and female. My own experience in breeding this fish is that they breed true and produce 100% offspring with the same bars. Pending resolution of the status of this fish it was known as N. spec. Bagamoyo TAN95/13. Subsequently other populations of the same fish were found in 1997 and it was scientifically described, and named N. annectens (DKG Journal, 30(3):52-63, 1998)

locality Tan 95/15 Locality TAN 95/15

When we got to the ferry we were disappointed to hear that we would not be allowed to cross. It would seem that during the recent rainy season the road on the north side of the river, that would take us to Msata, had disappeared! We had no option other than to retrace our route back to Dar es Salaam. Previously, just outside Dar, another killifish had been collected. This was a species that lives in brackish water, Pantonodon podoxys. The area where it was previously found is now part of the built up part of the city. Even if we could have found some water, the chances of finding this fish must be considered remote due to water pollution.

The next day we set off for Tanga, one of Tanzania’s principal towns and an important port. The road initially took us inland, across the Ruvu River to Chalinze, at which point we turned north to Tanga. Close to the Ruvu River is the village of Kwaraza and between the two is the type locality of N. lourensi and N. janpapi. Needless to say we stopped. Fish were not easy to find here and we never did find any N. lourensi at this locality. Eventually we had N. janpapi and N. melanospilus and two other females that were not identifiable. We then found one solitary male but it was not N. lourensi. It was identical in appearance to the fish we had found at Kisaki, with the same orange outer band on the heavily fringed anal fin and the brilliant orange/pink throat region. i.e. N flammicomantis. We assumed that the two females belonged to this male and subsequent breeding confirmed this. The locality is identified as Kwaraza TAN95/14. This was also the last time we were to find N. melanospilus on this trip!
The next day we set off from Tanga to travel north, up to the Kenyan border. We intended to turn inland which would take us into an area between the border and the Usambara Mountains. On the outskirts of Tanga a new road was under construction and this ran along the rear edge of a mangrove swamp. Brackish water! We soon found a pool and in it found Pantanodon podoxys. Our activities attracted a small crowd of local people but it was only when we had finished that they warned us of crocodiles in the area! These fish survived the journey and are distributed as Pantanodon podoxys TAN95/15.

locality Tan 95/16 Locality TAN 95/16

Further along the road at Gezani we collected an attractive population of N. palmqvisti. These were in a surprisingly deep roadside ditch. They have been introduced as N. palmqvisti Gezani TAN95/16.When we arrived at the border we were disappointed to discover that the road on our maps, that would take us behind the Usambara Mountains, did not exist! We returned to Tanga and in the afternoon took the road south to Pangani. In the first 10km. we found N. palmqvisti at several places but did not collect them. At Pangani we elected to take a triangular route back to Tanga. We turned inland taking the road to Muheza. In one place we found another population of N. palmqvisti, which we did not collect, and thereafter we did not stop again as it was getting late.




Nothobranchius palmqvistii Gezani Tan 95/16 Nothobranchius palmqvisti Gezani Tan 95/16 (photo J Haffegee)
Nothobranchius vosseleri Mombo Tan 95/19 Nothobranchius vosseleri Mombo Tan 95/19 - photo (J Haffegee)

The following day we set off from Tanga along the main road past Muheza to Mruwazi where we turned off taking a minor road to the town of Korogwe. We had travelled just over 20km. along this road when we came across a roadside pool containing some Nothobranchius. At first we thought they were N. palmqvisti but closer examination of the males, which were somewhat immature and hence poorly coloured, confirmed that they were not N. palmqvisti but something else that we could not identify. When we reached Korogwe, instead of turning right up the main road to Arusha, we went straight across taking the road to Handeni. We stopped at a likely biotype some 10km. from Korogwe. After searching for quite some time we found water and in it were the same fish that we had collected at the last locality. These were slightly more mature specimens and in consequence better coloured.
We returned back to Korogwe and turned onto the main road that would take us to Mombo and our overnight hotel at nearby Lesotho up in the mountains. A few kilometres before reaching Mombo we stopped again and found this same species. This time they were very colourful specimens.
We now had a pretty good idea of the identity of the fish we had found at the last three localities. These were N. vosseleri, a species described by Ahl in 1924 but for many years considered to be a synonym of N. palmqvisti. To the best of my knowledge there is no other record of this fish being collected since Vosseler found the original specimen.

locality Tan 95/17 localiity Tan 95/18

The three populations are identified as N. vosseleri Korogwe North TAN95/17. Korogwe South TAN95/18 and Mombo TAN95/19. We also collected this species at another locality just north of Mombo. This latter population was used for a re-description of the species and never distributed amongst aquarists. Populations 17 and 18 were bluish in background coloration whereas 19 and the un-numbered population from Mombo had a yellowish background colour on the body.

locality Tan 95/19 above: localities of N.vosseleri TAN 95/17, 18 and 19

We spent the Thursday night up in the mountains at Lesotho in what, in its day, was probably a good hotel. Now it is showing signs of its age, nevertheless, it was still better than a lot of the accommodation we had stayed in on this trip! The following day we travelled back to Arusha from where we had set off almost two weeks and 4500km. previously. There was no opportunity for fishing. Saturday was spent bagging up the fish for the journey home. We left Kilimanjaro Airport on the Saturday evening at the end of what had been an extremely successful collecting trip.






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