Wildlife of Zambia

South Luangwa NP landscape.jpg

The beautiful landlocked south-central African country of Zambia is a true success story when it comes to wildlife preservation and conservation, with more than 6% of the country being protected as national parks and reserves.

The country has a tropical climate and consists mostly of high plateaus (average altitude of 1,200 metres (3,900 ft) above sea level) with a few mountains and hills, dissected by impressive river valleys. There are 14 ecosystems in Zambia, leading to a high number (over 12,000) of fauna and flora species being present in the country, including:

•  over 3,500 species of wild flowering plants occur in the country;

•  a total of 242 mammalian species exist, with most endemic ones occupying the woodland and grassland ecosystems. The Thornicroft Giraffe and Kafue Lechwe are some of the well-known subspecies that are endemic to Zambia;

•  almost 800 bird species have been recorded, of which 600 are either resident or Afrotropic migrants. Chaplin’s Barbet, White-chested Tinkerbird, Black-cheeked Lovebird and Shelley’s Sunbird are just some of the special species of Zambia;

•  roughly 490 known fish species, belonging to 24 fish families have been reported in Zambia, with Lake Tanganyika having the highest diversity and most endemic species.

Zambia has some of Africa’s best wildlife and game reserves, affording the country with abundant tourism potential. Because the country is relatively undervisited compared to east Africa and South Africa, you can still have spectacular wildlife sightings all to yourself – a very special experience! Zambia’s fantastic reputation is helped along by friendly and English-speaking local people with a positivity not easily seen elsewhere in south-central Africa.  Zambia is a very safe country to travel around in with a very low risk of terrorism.

The Victoria Falls in the southern part of the country is obviously a major tourist attraction, being a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the seven natural wonders of the world. Apart from that must-be-seen highlight, some of the best known parks are:

•  Kafue National Park, one of the biggest parks in Africa (the size of Wales) and blessed with incredible wildlife diversity and special antelope species. Mammals in the park include African Elephant, Cheetah, African Wild Dog, Lion, Red Lechwe, Puku, Defassa Waterbuck, Common Eland, Oribi, Sable Antelope, Roan Antelope and Southern Reedbuck.

•  South Luangwa National Park, the original home of the walking safari and regarded as one of the great parks of Africa. It is also known as the “Leopard capital of the world” with a very high success rate of seeing these elusive big cats. Other game present in big numbers include Lion, African Wild Dog, African Elephant, African Buffalo, Hippopotamus, Thornicroft Giraffe, Plains Zebra, Common Wildebeest and Impala. The birdlife in this park is also prolific with over 400 recorded species in the park.

Other smaller parks include Nsumbu National Park (with 80 km of lakeshore of Lake Tanganyika) in the north of the country, Nyika National Park in the northeast (mostly in Malawi, and blessed with high altitude grassland habitat), Kasanka National Park (with its spectacular annual bat migration), Victoria Falls National Park (with its patch of rainforest growing in the spray of the falls), North Luangwa National Park (north of South Luangwa with much the same fauna, but underdeveloped) and Lower Zambezi National Park (one of the last true remote wilderness areas in southern Africa).

We here at Nature Travel Africa offer several fantastic safaris to Zambia. They include

We can also include Zambia as part of your itinerary to neighbouring countries, like Zimbabwe, Namibia or Botswana. Enquire at info@naturetravelafrica.com or visit www.naturetravelafrica.com for more information.

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