Liuwa Plain in western Zambia has one of the oldest conservation histories in Africa, dating back to the late 19th century when the King of Barotseland, Lubosi Lewanika, appointed his people as the custodians of the reserve. Each year, this 3,660 km² expanse bears witness to one of nature’s great spectacles, the second largest wildebeest migration in Africa.
Until recently, zebra and wildebeest populations were in steep decline, a consequence of excessive poaching. Rural settlements within the park present a serious challenge, as woodlands are being destroyed to create space for rice fields.
African Parks assumed management of the park in 2003 and immediately established effective law enforcement operations to keep both the communities and wildlife safe. It is only through engaging with local communities and establishing projects to improve their livelihoods that Liuwa can flourish.
When African Parks took over the management of Liuwa Plain, there was just one female lion remaining, the famous Lady Liuwa. The park boosted the population by introducing additional lions to create a small but growing pride.
A Community Development Fund provides monthly payments towards community infrastructure projects including anti-poaching initiatives.
The wildebeest migration contributes hugely to tourism, through which local employment and new revenue streams emanate.
Liuwa’s cheetah population is recovering with multiple births of cubs, increasing the total population number by nine.
While the park’s tourism appeal is strong, more infrastructure is needed to ensure that local communities benefit directly from this industry. Providing sustainable solutions to communities living in volatile climate conditions with diminishing resources is a high priority.