Singida tilapia (Oreochromis esculentus) was originally the mainstay of the commercial fishery of the Lake Victoria region waters, from inception of commercial fishery in early 1900 until the early 1980,It was also considered as a delicacy and a preferred food tilapia fish for the riparian fishing communities who still seek it out in its refuggia despite its being critically endangered.The project’s goal is the long term population recovery of critically endangered O.esculentus that is a native fish species endemic to L. Victoria.This project will enhance the species recovery and survival using participatory,supportive breeding and re-introduction of species’ fry back to Lake Victoria.The projects addresses both worldwide and local conservation action plans for this species by Conserving one of the critically endangered species of the world's freshwater and marine fishes by management and restoration strategies focused on species at the greatest risk of extinction.
The major problem facing O. esculentus is human induced leading to threats of overfishing, habitat alteration, and the introduction of alien fish species such as the Nile perch (Lates niloticus) as the leading causes for species population decline. The main population (in Lake Victoria) has declined by >90% over the past 20 years. The remaining population is limited to sub-populations in a few satellite spots around L. Victoria, which are themselves undergoing continued environmental degradation and heavy fishing pressure. Sadly most of this area where the species are now re-occurring, the fishing community is not aware of the conservation status of the species and have started overexploiting it without notice.
The project used supportive breeding with the aim of promoting population recovery and survival of O. esculentus populations in Koome Islands involving indigenous fishing community participation in localised breeding process, protecting and conserving targeted critically endangered O. esculentus; bringing fisheries conservation science closer to the fisher communities through; awareness campaigns; collective actions and demonstration activities.The project will apply in-situ conservation that involves the conservation and preservation of species within their natural habitat of L. Victoria where the species naturally occurs. ‘Supportive breeding’ an approach to captive breeding which uses wild parents and returns offspring into the wild at an early stage to avert extinct in the species.