Cahora & Tete

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The Zambezi Shark

The Zambezi Shark

A Zambezi Shark caught on a bait
A Zambezi Shark caught on a bait

Zambezi Shark Factfile

The Zambezi shark is also known as the bull shark and occurs in the warmer oceans throughout the world. Zambezi sharks prefer inshore waters and, unlike many other sharks, can tolerate freshwater allowing them to swim up rivers. They can penetrate considerable distances and Zambezi sharks and in addition to Guthrie’s recent catch in Tete, Zambezi sharks have been recorded from below Cahora Bassa in Mozambique, the Lower Shire River in Malawi, the Save-Runde junction in Zimbabwe and up the Limpopo to the Kruger National Park.   

Zambezi sharks are born at a length of about 75cm and grow very slowly. They mature after about 20 years when they have reached a length of more than 2 meters. After a gestation of 10-11 months females bear 6-13 live pups. This is generally in summer. The largest Zambezi shark known to science was caught in 2009 in the Breede River in South Africa and was more than 4 meters long and weighed an estimated 550kg. The longest recorded journey of a Zambezi shark was a fish that was tagged, again in the Breede River, by the South African Shark Conservancy and swam 2,000km to Bazaruto in Mozambique in two months.

Zambezi sharks are predators which feed on fish, crustaceans, turtles, marine mammals and birds. Because of their slow growth and late maturity they are vulnerable to overfishing and are IUCN red-listed as near-threatened.

To read more on Zambezi sharks please consult: Heemstra P., Heemstra E. 2004. Coastal Fishes of Southern Africa. NISC, SAIAB. 488p. or visit the South African Shark Conservancy website.

Read more articles from this issue:
Zambezi Traveller (Issue 09, June 2012)

Read more about the region in our destination guide:
Cahora Bassa & Tete