Lake Tanganyika is one of Africa’s Great Lakes. It has a few things going for it like being the second oldest freshwater lake in the world, the second largest lake by volume, and the second deepest. It is surpassed only by Lake Baikal in Siberia. Lake Tanganyika is the world’s longest freshwater lake and is shared by four countries.
Tanzania borders 46%, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) 40%, Burundi, and Zambia are the surrounding countries. The lake drains into the Congo River Basin and then into the Atlantic Ocean. British explorers Richard Burton and John Speke were the first to discover the lake in 1858 while searching for the source of the Nile River which is Lake Victoria. Lake Tanganyika supports a major fishery that provides 60% of the animal protein in the diet of that region. There are about 100,000 people involved in this fishing industry operating out of over 800 sites.
Lake Tanganyika and its wetlands are home to Nile crocodiles, which live in 26 countries in Africa. These include the giant Gustave, the man-eater crocodile, known to have killed 300 and feared by the people of the region.
Storm’s water cobra is a banded water cobra that feeds on fish and is only found in this lake. It is also known as Naja annulata or ringed water cobra which are glossy brown, grayish-brown, or reddish-brown with black bands all along the body.
The belly is pale yellow, while the tail is wholly black. They can spread a narrow, yet impressive hood. They have been known to reach a maximum of 9.2 feet in length. It is an excellent swimmer and spends most of its time in the water. It is rarely seen by humans and its venom is dangerously neurotoxic.
Lake Tanganyika hosts at least 250 species of cichlid fish like tilapia, are important food fishes, while others, such as the Cichla species, are valued game fish. The family also includes many popular freshwater aquarium fish kept by hobbyists, including the angelfish, Oscars, and discus.
There are forktail lates, sleek lates, Tanganyika lates, and bigeye lates that are in the perch family and have been overfished making the larger ones rare. You’ll also find at least 20 species of leeches, 9 types of sponges, and at least 10 species of freshwater crabs.
It is the deepest lake in Africa with a maximum depth of 4,826 feet accounting for 16% of the world’s available freshwater. It covers 12,700 square miles and the shoreline 1,136 miles.
Two rivers flow into the lake, the Ruzizi and the Malagarasi Rivers. The water surface temperatures range from 75 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit.
The Lake was the scene of two famous battles during World War I. Germany had complete control of the lake in the early stages of the war. When the Allies cut off the railway link in July 1916, the Germans abandoned the area.
To avoid their prize ship falling into Allied hands, they scuttled the vessel, which was later resurrected and renamed the MV Liemba.