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The People of the Forests and the Fish

A Bakwele girl, Benye, showed me a little fish which she caught at the Bakas river bank where it had overflown due to the heavy rain of the rainy season. Even this small amount of fish, which was caught in the bathing spot, can be a decent side dish. (Photo: Oishi)

A boka in the dugout canoe. This is a big fish belonging to the Bagridae family and as with Japanese fish belonging to the same family, they squeak making a gii gii sound when lifted up to the air. They also make the loud and hoarse noise vof vof like coughing. Although they are a tasty fish they also have the nickname, gOk-su, meaning, pig fish which does not sound very nice. This name is given to them due to their wide-open mouths and their tendency to make the noises mentioned above. If you are described as being like a boka, it is an insulting comment for both men and women. Taken on the 16th February, 2002 on the River Dja. (Photo: Oishi)

Son of Mr. Caesar and a large Heterobranchus longifilis; CLARIIDAE. This is called ndim in Bakwele. This fish is called by three different names as they grow larger, sometimes growing over 150cm long. They have also a store of yellow fat in their adipose fin and offal which people love the taste of. This one had been caught in the hook of a trap and found by Mr. Caesar in the early morning, He brought the fish into the dug boat using grains and brought it to the camp. Taken the settled camp, Ngoko-sangh, located on the farthest part upstream of the Dongo River, on 8th February, 2004. (Photo: Oishi)

A Baka Pygmy, Mr. Movissa, and a small Clarias sp.; CLARIIDAE, ngOlO. This is the result of going to a swamp and njenje (this refers to general fishing in Baka but overnight hook fishing was conducted this time). (Photo: Oishi)

Mr. Arasan, a Fulbe, is engaged in agriculture, mainly working with cacao plantations in Ndongo village after migrating from far away in West Africa, he is also a keen fisherman as well. He brought longline fishing into the village, called ngalu, which involves a line with more than 100 large hooks. He does not use bait on the longline but can still catch some fish, which swim on the bottom of the main stream of the Dja River, such as Malapterurus electricus; MALAPTERURIDAE which this photo shows (gugu in Bakwele and nbinbi in Baka). (Photo: Oishi)

This fish called kOga in the Bakwele language has a dorsal fin like a razor and you can hurt yourself if you touch them carelessly. Taxonomically, this is categorized as a fish but, in fact, this is very close to the coelacanth and perhaps closer to an amphibian. (Photo: Oishi)

This fish is called E-gEl-E-dii in Bakwele, mongsuor singa in Lingala and is one species of blotched head snake. As the shape and pattern of head resembles that of pit vipers, they are nicknamed water pit vipers. When women and children are conducting bailing fishing with naked hands and this fish pokes its head from their hands, at first glance, it looks like a snake. Actually, this shock only lasts for one second as the fishs head is cracked up by panga at the next moment. (Photo: Oishi)

A big cyprinid fish called sEya in Bakwele. (Photo: Oishi)

Another big cyprinid fish called buOk in Bakwele. Fishes categorized in the cyprinid labeo genus grow large and they are tasty. They are covered with large scales which resemble playing cards or business cards. (Photo: Oishi)

Xenomystus nigri; NOTOPTERIDAE, called kako:l in Bakwele. In direct translation, this means the leaf of banana. Young girls are forbidden to eat it. (Photo: Oishi)

Mr. Nazer just caught a fish categolized into Mormyridae, called yagayaga or zElEngyi in the Bakwele. (Photo: Oishi)

Mr. Kameda and a koto which he pulled in. This species is difficult to catch by a hook since their mouth is small. Mr. Kameda is a Bangand boy and he came deep into the Dja river with his brother to catch fish. (Photo: Oishi)

This is smaller than Hydrocynus (ALESTIDAE) which is in the following photo and similar to a tiger fish. This fish skims off other fish caught in the net which are called ja:sEl in the Bakwele language. Taken near the Gii Waterfall on 16th Feb, 2004. (Photo: Oishi)

Djilalon in Bakwele. They have sharp teeth and are tasty. (Photo: Oishi)

Synodontis angelicus; MOCHOKIDAE, called kOlO-kOlO in the Bakwele language. Seven species of Synodontis in Mochokidae are utilized as food. Many of them have a beautiful appearance and quite a number of them are sold as tropical fish in Europe, the U.S. and Japan. (Photo: Oishi)

E-yanga in Bakwele. As the fish in the citharinidae family are deep-bodied and flat, net fishing easily catches them. (Photo: Oishi)

This is a small hard fish just over ten or so centimeters long. They are not used for food but as an aphrodisiac for men. To do so, they are skewered with some branches and dried until very hard by camp-fire, then people brew them and consume. It is exactly called su-ba:z,which means fluke fish, while its academic name is Phago boulengeri; CITHARINIDAE. (Photo: Oishi)

This is called EyOmbO in Bakwele. The blue stripe is distinctive but it disappears as the fish grows. This fish has white meat and is tasty but it is not very easy to eat since it has a substantial amount of small bones. (Photo: Oishi)

This black fish is called pilu in Bakwele, which means a mourning dress. (Photo: Oishi)

This is one kind of spiny eel, called na-gozOk in Bakwele. The sharp point is on its upper lip and it has small stingers on its back. Probably due to the shape and color (yellow stripes against black which is very distinctive when it is alive), they are not eaten but thrown away. (Photo: Oishi)

This is one kind of Protopterus aethiopicus, called jOmbO in Lingala. The taste is unique both like fish and unlike fish. They have a lot of fat in them and are thus popular. (Photo: Oishi)

Note1: Phonetic representation of fish names included capital letters apart from uncapitalized letters ([O]/[o] and [E]/[e]. [O] represents a clear sound with a vertically well-opened mouth. ([o] is pronounced with a slightly opened mouth) while [E] represents a clear sound with a widely well-opened mouth ([e] is pronounced without opening month widely.)

Note2: Regarding the specific names of fish, valid names on international code of zoological nomenclature often change according to the development of fish systematization. All scientific names are based on the current information when this webpage is written. For the latest information, please check The Catalog of fishes online which the California Academy of Science in the U.S. provides and Search FishBase provided by WorldFish Center.