Lake Malawi National Park (World Heritage)
According to indexdotcom, Lake Malawi is the third largest lake in Africa. The lake in the East African rift system is home to more fish species than any other lake in the world. Many fish, such as numerous species of cichlids, only occur there.
Lake Malawi National Park: Facts
|Official title:||Lake Malawi National Park|
|Natural monument:||South end of Lake Malawi including the islands of Boadzulu and Maleri as well as 10 others, as well as Mwenya and Nkhudzi Hills and Nkhudzi Spit and water areas in the range of 100 m from the lake shore, area 94 km², national park since 1980|
|Country:||Malawi, Mangochi and Salima Districts|
|Location:||Lake Malawi, on and around the Nankumba peninsula, east of Lilongwe, border area with Mozambique|
|Meaning:||especially important for the study of biology, in terms of importance to be compared with the Galápagos Islands|
|Flora and fauna:||largest number of freshwater fish in the world, 90% only occurring here, 30% of all known species of Old World cichlids (Cichlidae) such as the turquoise cichlid (Pseudotropheus auratus); also mammal species such as hippopotamus, leopard, rock hyrax, impala, occasionally African elephants, which have been observed near Mwenya and Nkhudzi Hills, greater kudu, bushbuck, plains zebra, bush pig; the islands of Mumbo and Boadzulu as important nesting sites for white-breasted cormorants; Reptiles such as Nile crocodile and Nile monitor on Boadzulu|
Fascinating colorful freshwater fish
At first glance, this national park seems to be nothing more than a section of a lake shore, but… The rocky mountains towering on the shore are overgrown by dense dry forest of Combretum, Terminalia and Cordyla species, to which white sandy beaches are a delightful one Form contrast. Raging baboons and vervet monkeys that come to drink on the banks of the lake are just as rare as hippos that frolic in the shallow water near the shore. On stormy days, the waves of the lake can break up into rushing surf, and as a silent observer one has the impression that one is standing on the shores of an ocean. Large colonies of white-breasted cormorants have settled on some of the small rock islands within sight of the land. The mighty, chocolate brown fish eagles, who have a conspicuously snow-white breast, show their greatest population density on earth here; It is fascinating to watch how they throw themselves purposefully down to the water without long circling and grab a fish with their mighty claws in order – after such a successful hunt – to rise again into the air with heavy flapping of their wings.
Snorkeling in the pleasantly warm, crystal-clear water leaves you amazed: The mbuna – as the fish in the lake are called in the local language – positively impose themselves on intruders in the underwater world. Without hesitation they swim around the “guest” in large swarms and show their full beauty undisturbed. The viewer is captivated by all the colors of the rainbow – from pale pink to turquoise green to violet blue, paired with gold and silver tones. 350 species of cichlid in the world can only be found in this lake, and a new species is discovered almost year after year.
Some details can be observed during a single dive: cichlids of the same species are able to change colors and patterns quickly. In this way they communicate moods to each other and – to avoid constant turf wars – also determine their ranking. Almost all of them live in pairs in small territories that are fiercely defended against conspecifics. Many species of cichlids are mouthbrooders; one parent – father or mother – incubates the eggs in the mouth. If father and mother cichlid signal their youngsters danger by changing color, they will flee into the parents’ mouths in the first days of their lives.
The cichlids avoid food competition by specializing in different niches. For this purpose, their mouths are anatomically and functionally differently built, depending on whether they are eating algae from vertical rocks or sandy soils or even floating food.
Placing the southern part of Lake Malawi under special protection is justified by the uniqueness of this fish world with its amazing biological peculiarities; There is no comparable anywhere else on our planet. This huge field laboratory, in which new, also general biological knowledge is constantly being gained, is extremely useful and helpful in checking geological and animal-geographical theories.
Anyone who is a little interested in biology can learn a lot on site about social behavior, development history and diversity in a small space. The much misused term “ecology” can be corrected here through your own perception, and you get suggestions to think about the biological nature of your own species. There are an abundance of models for this, but they must also be preserved, all of them.