Photo Credit: Alwyn Lubbe

Going with the flow – the last-ditch action to save the Critically Endangered Tradou (Barrydale) Redfin


conservation problem

The last remaining population of the Critically Endangered Tradou Redfin (Pseudobarbus burchelli) can be found in a small section of the Huis River in South Africa. Due to the abstraction of water for domestic use and agriculture, only about 10% of total flows remain in the Huis River. Thus, when the river dries out, there are only a few pools left, used as a refuge for the redfin. Under climate change impacts and increasing water demand, low flows thus pose a significant threat of extinction for this species.

Efforts aimed at saving this regional flagship species have had many positive secondary impacts on the environment, like improving water quality and flows by removing alien vegetation along the banks of the Huis River. 

Project activities

Based on recent calculations carried out by the Endangered Wildlife Trust, about 20% of total water is currently being "lost" in the ground canal water distribution system which delivers water from the Huis River to the farmers. This lost water does not contribute to improving the habitat quality for the redfin as it returns to the environment below the lower extent of the redfin's distribution in the Huis River.

The aim of this project, funded under an SOS Rapid Action Grant, is to line the ground canal, which will eliminate losses not associated with evaporation, and to divert this "saved" portion of water to be released at the top of the Huis River, thereby improving flows throughout the entirety of the river. 

Project outcomes

The goal of this project is to achieve a significant improvement in habitat extent for the Critically Endangered Tradou Redfin and other components of the freshwater ecosystem, without negatively impacting on other water-users in the catchment.

We expect an increase in the base flow of the Upper Huis River of at least 10%, as a result of the water saved in the ground canal; and released at the top of the river.

This additional water allocation will result in a flow of 20-30% of total available water in the Huis River, which is the minimum guideline benchmark by the Department of Water and Sanitation for rivers of high biodiversity importance. 

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