Wildlife Highlights of Zambia
Zambia is home to an abundance of wildlife, from the great herbivores and elusive predators to rarer antelopes, colourful birds and more unusual nocturnal species.
The riverine plains and mopane, miombo and acacia woodland habitats that form much of Zambia’s national parks are home to a wide range species, from the common impala, waterbuck, bushbuck, greater kudu, zebra and giraffe, to rarer species such as roan and sable antelope, Litchenstein’s haartebeest, Cookson’s wildebeest, oribi, puku and Thornicrofts giraffe.
The great rivers of Zambia are home to a wide range of birds and huge populations of hippo and crocodile, whilst also attracting large numbers of buffalo and elephant. The wetland region of Bangweulu is home to vast numbers of black lechwe, whilst the Kafue lechwe is found in Lochinvar. Both regions have significant numbers of water birds, including Shoebill in Bangweulu.
Night drives are common in Zambia and permitted in the National Parks, and species such as large spotted genet, bushbaby, serval, aardvark, honey badger, white-tailed mongoose, civet, porcupine and African wild cat are often seen.
Whilst there are healthy lion populations in all major parks, it is fantastic leopard viewing that Zambia is best known for, especially in the South Luangwa and Lower Zambezi national parks. Cheetah can be found in Kafue, principally around the Busanga Plains, and in recent years wild dogs have been making a reasonable recovery throughout the major parks, but you should not ‘expect’ to see either species.
Birding is superb in Zambia, with approximately 750 species recorded. Particular highlights include the rare shoebill found exclusively in the Bangweulu Swamps, the endemic Chaplin’s barbet, and Pels fishing owl, found in both Luangwa and Lower Zambezi national parks. These parks are also two of the best places to view and photograph white-fronted and carmine bee-eater nesting sites. Waterbirds are very well represented along the great rivers and in the wetland regions.
Kasanka National Park is home to the rare sitatunga antelope and also plays host to the bat migration each November, where literally hundreds of thousands of fruit bats converge on the park for several weeks. In the remote west of the country, the vast open Luiwa Plains play host to Africa’s second great wildebeest migration in November/December.
Sadly, you are unlikely to see rhino in the wild. There are a few individuals under protection in Mosi au Tunya National Park, close to Victoria Falls, though this park does not offer an authentic safari experience. There are ongoing plans to re-introduce rhino to the Luangwa and Lower Zambezi Valleys, and although there are isolated populations, you cannot currently expect to see them. There are also no giraffe in the Lower Zambezi National Park.
Please see our ‘regions’section for more detailed information on Zambia’s different wildlife areas. Please contact us to discuss specialist trips as well as general game-viewing safaris.