The Nile River is considered to be the lifeline of Egypt. Without the Nile, much of Egypt would be unliveable. The river is home to many species of aquatic fauna and also supports hundreds of other terrestrial species that live along its banks. Many of the animals living in and around the Nile are feared and revered by local human residents. Ancient Egyptians would even worship some of them. Some of the most noted fauna of the Nile River are mentioned below.
7. Nile Crocodile
The Crocodylus niloticus or the Nile crocodile is one of the most feared and revered residents of the Nile River. It is the second biggest extant reptile in the world after the saltwater crocodile. This species is found in large parts of sub-Saharan Africa and lives in lakes, rivers, and even marshlands. Occasionally, the Nile crocodile has been detected in saline water environments like brackish lakes and deltas but is generally a freshwater species. A male Nile crocodile has a length ranging from 3.5 to 5 m while females are about 30% smaller than males. Nile crocodiles are feared for their aggressive nature. They are apex predators in their ecosystem and feed on a variety of prey including mammals, birds, fish, reptiles, etc. They ambush and attack their prey. They move at high speeds in water. They also have a very powerful bite. Nile crocodiles are quite social in nature and are known to share food and basking spots with others of their species. They have their own order where larger and older males occupy the top of the hierarchy. The Nile crocodile is also known to attack humans are responsible for many human deaths in the Nile river system.
Bathing in the waters of the Nile, the Hippopotamus amphibius is quite a common sight. It is a herbivorous, semiaquatic animal, and the third-largest land mammal on Earth. Hippos have barred-shaped torsos. Their wide-open mouths revealing giant canine tusks are typical of their physical appearance. Hippos can be seen during the daytime in the waters of Nile. They both reproduce and give birth in water. They approach land to graze after sunset. Hippos are held responsible for many human deaths along the Nile. Their behavior is described as unpredictable and aggressive. However, the species is labeled as Vulnerable by the IUCN as it is hunted by humans for meat and ivory.
5. Nile Perch
The Lates niloticus is a freshwater fish that is found in much of the Afrotropic ecozone including the Nile river system. The fish is of great importance to many East African nations and is a source of food security in the region. The fish has a silver color with a blue tinge. Its dark black eyes are surrounded by yellow rings. The Nile perch can grow as long as 2m and weigh as much as 200 kg. It feeds on insects, zooplankton, smaller fish, and crustaceans.
4. Nile Soft-shelled Turtle
Also called the African soft-shelled turtle, this turtle has pitted flat carapace bones covered with skin that is thick and leathery. The color of the skin varies from olive to brown with white spots that with occasional yellow rings. The turtle has three webbed claws on each limb. The Nile soft-shelled turtle is found throughout the Nile River system as well as in the Congo and Sombreiro Rivers and some other parts of Africa. These turtles have an omnivorous diet and feed on crustaceans, amphibians, fish, small mammals and carcass, as well as fruits, seeds, and nuts. These turtles face several threats from humans. Humans hunt them for meat or collect their eggs for consumption.
3. Nile River Snakes
Several species of snakes, both venomous and non-venomous, live in the Nile River basin. Some of the deadliest snakes living along the river are the Egyptian banded cobra, red spitting cobra, black mamba, and several species of vipers. Water snakes that live almost exclusively in the Nile’s waters are also found in the river. These snakes feed on fish, invertebrates, and amphibians in the water.
2. African Tigerfish
The Hydrocynus vittatus is a freshwater fish found throughout much of Africa including the Nile River. The has a silvery color with narrow black strips running horizontally on its skin. It has sharp and conical teeth that allow it to cut into prey after tightly grasping it. African tigerfish is extremely important to the local economy in the Nile basin. It is not only an important protein source but also attracts tourists who enjoy recreational and sport fishing on the river.
1. Nile Monitor
The Varanus niloticus belongs to the Varanidae family and is found across Africa. This large monitor also lives in the Nile River. It can grow to around 120 to 220 cm in length and has strong jaws, legs, and muscular bodies. Nile monitors feed on a variety of animals like fish, eggs of crocodiles, frogs, snakes, birds, small mammals, and even carrion.