Running wildebeest in Liuwa - Liuwa, ..., Zambia [2008 © Lorenz Andreas Fischer]Collaring hyaena - Liuwa, ..., Zambia [2010 © Stephen Cunliffe]Waterhole in Liuwa pond - Liuwa, ..., Zambia [2008 © Lorenz Andreas Fischer]Fisherman in Liuwa wetland - Liuwa, ..., Zambia [2010 © Peter Fearnhead]Lady Liuwa at Matamanene bush camp - Liuwa, ..., Zambia [2009 © Unknown]Wildebeests at Liuwa Plain - LiuwaPlain, South Africa [2015 © Kenny Babilon]

Liuwa Plain National Park, Zambia

Fauna & Flora

Through the efforts of African Parks Zambia, wildlife species have prospered at Liuwa. The most notable example of this is the astonishing increase in wildebeest (Connochaetus taurinus) numbers from approximately 15,000 animals in 2003 to almost 43,000 individuals in 2011. Other species that have shown clear increases in population numbers are zebra (Equus quagga), from some 2,800 in 2005 to around 4,500 in 2011, and red lechwe (Kobus leche) which increased from a counted 966 in 2005 to a counted 1,272 in 2011. Tsessebe (Damaliscus lunatus) doubled in number between 2007 and 2011 with the current count at 872 individuals.

Liuwa Plain National Park, Zambia - African Parks - Young wildebeests fighting - Liuwa Plain, South Africa [2012 © Paul Godard]

Some other species thought to be extinct in the park started to make their appearance in 2008. A breeding pack of wild dog (Lycaon pictus) started to be seen frequently and a herd of about 20 roan antelope (Hippotragus equinus) often made an appearance. Wild dog are considered apex predators and their return to Liuwa is a sign of a recovering ecosystem. Cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) have also been frequently spotted around Matamene Camp. The lion population of Liuwa, reduced to one lone lioness in 2003, is growing and is now at six, thanks to the birth of three cubs in 2014. The hyena population at Liuwa is very healthy with large numbers congregating at dens.

Liuwa Plain National Park, Zambia - African Parks - cheetahs in woodland - South Africa [2012 © Paul Godard] Liuwa Plain National Park, Zambia - African Parks - wild dogs - South Africa [2012 © Paul Godard]
Liuwa Plain National Park, Zambia - African Parks - Hyenas lying in a pool - Liuwa Plain, South Africa [2012 © Paul Godard]

In 2008, the park was visited by four elephant bulls (Loxodonta africana) from a park more than 300km away. This demonstrates the extent to which Liuwa and its surroundings have become a safe haven for wildlife due to the active and effective law enforcement efforts of African Parks staff.

For centuries, the eland (Tragelaphus oryx) has been an important cultural symbol to the Lozi people that live around Liuwa Plain. In 2007 African Parks, with financial backing from the Dutch Government (DGIS), successfully relocated 49 eland to Liuwa and within one year the herd was strengthened through the birth of five calves. During 2008, 16 buffalo (Syncerus caffer) were introduced back to the park with the herd having grown to 23 animals by 2011. In August 2011 the herd was further supplemented with another 12 animals, The herd currently stands at approximately 76 individuals due to a successful calving season over 2013/2014.

One of Liuwa's many attributes is its extraordinarily diverse birdlife which includes many rare and migratory species. A total of 334 bird species have been recorded in Liuwa Plain National Park.

Liuwa Plain National Park, Zambia - African Parks - bird | lappet faced vulture in tree top - South Africa [2012 © Paul Godard]

Liuwa plain supports globally important populations of storks, cranes and other water birds. The vulnerable crowned crane (Balearica regulorum) and wattled crane (Grus carunculatus) are abundant, sometimes forming flocks numbering several hundred. Wattled cranes are the most wetland dependent of Africa's cranes and are therefore considered an excellent flagship species for wetland conservation. Globally, Liuwa is considered to be the fourth most important breeding site for wattled cranes. The arrival of the annual floods marks the arrival of a wealth of water birds and the spectacle of massive migrating flocks is not uncommon in Liuwa. These water birds include the vulnerable slaty egret (Egretta vinaceigula) and the whiskered tern (Chlidonias hybrida) for which Liuwa provides the only breeding area in Zambia. Click here for the 2013 census on waterbirds in Zambia.

Liuwa Plain National Park, Zambia - African Parks - birds | crown cranes near pool - South Africa [2012 © Paul Godard] Liuwa Plain National Park, Zambia - African Parks - birds in pool at sunrise | skimmer fishing - South Africa [2012 © Paul Godard]

 A notable migrant, arriving on the plain in summer, is the near threatened black winged pratincole (Glareola nordmanni) often numbering in the tens of thousands. Grassland species are also well represented in Liuwa. The eastern clapper lark (Mirafra fasciolate jappi) and the pink billed lark (Spizocorys conirostris makawai) reach their northern limit here with both these subspecies considered to be endemic to Liuwa.

For more information concerning threatened species at Liuwa, please read Liuwa's 2010 Protected Area Report for the European Union.