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Let's face it: when it comes to safari wish lists it's the killers that take top billing. We may think of ourselves as peace-loving individuals, but there's no disguising our thrill at the power, stealth and sheer purpose that marks out nature's top predators - even if they seem to spend much of their time just lounging around. Zambia has an impressive selection of creatures for whom staying alive means killing something else. Here are ten to look out for. Vakacha Around Zambia · agricultural tours · safari news · travel latest · a helping hand Around Zambia: Red in tooth and claw 2 Leopard, South Luangwa National Park This most beautiful of predators is surely Zambia's top safari trump card. South Luangwa's sightings tally is the envy of all Africa, while Kafue and Lower Zambezi are not far behind. Most widespread of Africa's big cats, the leopard owes its success to its elusive and versatile nature: at home everywhere from rainforest to desert, hunting anything from frogs to young giraffe, and the only big cat to stash prey routinely in a tree. Listen out for hysterical baboons: a sure sign of a leopard in the vicinity. 3 Spotted hyena, Liuwa Plain National Park Not everybody's cup of tea, perhaps, but these resourceful and powerful predators are not to be underestimated: more than a match for any leopard, and even capable - in suffi cient numbers - of turning the tables on lion. Their scavenging habits are well known, but perhaps less appreciated is their considerable hunting prowess. This can be witnessed on the open grasslands of Liuwa Plain, where hyenas are the dominant predator. 4 Wild dog, southern Kafue The appearance of Africa's most endangered large carnivore is notoriously hard to predict. Highly nomadic, these restless pack animals wander vast distances in search of prey and denning sites. Sightings - always a privilege - are most numerous in Luangwa and Kafue, with the latter's Nanzhila Plains offering as good a chance as anywhere. Keep an eye on prey animals, such as puku and impala: they become extremely jumpy when wild dog are around. 5 Cheetah, northern Kafue This elegant cat is the world's fastest mammal. It has a restricted range in Zambia, confi ned to western areas and entirely absent from the Luangwa and Zambezi valleys. Kafue National Park is the cheetah's stronghold, with the Busanga Plains in particular offering ideal open habitat for its high- speed hunting technique. Cheetahs are vulnerable to disturbance and do not compete well with other large predators. Plans are afoot, however, to reintroduce this rare cat to some of their former haunts around the country. 1 Lion, North Luangwa National Park A healthy population of Africa's top predator exists in Luangwa, Kafue and Lower Zambezi national parks, though sightings are rare elsewhere. There is no greater safari thrill than tracking these big cats on foot - and no better place to do this than on the fl ood plains of North Luangwa, where the local prides tail the area's large buffalo herds. Listen out in the small hours for that thunderous moan; guaranteed to send shivers down the spine - especially if you're under canvas. huless WILDERNESS SAFARISROBIN POPE SAFARISROBIN POPE SAFARISZNTBROBIN POPE SAFARIS 38 Travel Zambia November 2009 35 4 8 Liuwa Plain NP Sioma Ngwezi NP West Lunga NP Kafue NP Mwinilunga Solwezi Limulunga Mongu Kaoma Livingstone Kazungula Victoria Falls Zambezi River Kafue River

0100200 miles 0100200300 km N TZ People Vakacha Habitat Habitat Nkani Nkani 9 Nile crocodile, Lake Kariba The lion may be top predator on terra fi rma, but there's no doubting who rules the waters. This formidable reptile may exceed 5m and weigh close to a tonne - though such monster individuals tend to be elusive. It is equally adept at catching fi sh underwater or pulling unsuspecting mammals from the bank. Prey as large as buffalo has fallen victim to those massive jaws, and even Homo sapiens sometimes features on the menu. Despite persecution, crocodiles remain common in all Zambia's major lowland rivers and lakes. 6 Martial eagle, northern Zambia Largest of Zambia's eagles, this magnifi cent raptor soars high above open country on its 2.2m wingspan in search of prey below. Favourite targets include guinea fowl and monitor lizards, but it may even take the young of small antelope. Scan the skies anywhere around Zambia and you might get lucky. Immature birds are pure white below, only gaining the distinct black breast and face of adulthood after four years. 8 Fish eagle, Sioma N'Wezi National Park Zambia's national bird may seem unmissable to the human observer. But pity the poor barbel or tilapia meandering downstream, blissfully unaware of what lurks above. Unseen, the eagle swoops from its perch and extends fi shhook talons to pluck its prize from the surface. One decent catch satisfi es its daily requirements - and this takes, on average, just eight minutes of fi shing time. Listen out for the distinct yodelling call - often given by pairs in duet. 7 Giant eagle owl, Luambe National Park Africa's largest owl is the nemesis of many small nocturnal creatures, using those wicked talons to capture anything from roosting guineafowl to foraging genets. It is the only predator known to prey habitually on the African hedgehog and will even make a meal of other owls. This impressive bird - also known as Verreaux's eagle owl - is a regular sight on night drives in most national parks, preferring lightly wooded habitat. Look out for those pink eyelids. 10 Honey badger, Lower Zambezi National Park This small carnivore has a feisty reputation that sees much larger predators give it a wide berth. Indeed, the bold black- and- white coloration serves as a warning: those long claws and powerful jaws can do serious damage and - if all else fails - would- be assailants are doused in a pungent spray. The honey badger's catholic diet extends from fl esh to fruit; it will ransack bees' nests, dig up crocodile eggs and even take on a three- metre python. Look out for it on night drives - especially in South Luangwa and the Lower Zambezi. fifi SAUSAGE TREE CAMP ZNTBNORMAN CARR SAFARIS NORMAN CARR SAFARIS ZNTB November 2009 Travel Zambia 39 2 1 7 6 9 10 Lower Zambezi NP Kasanka NP South Luangwa NP North Luangwa NP Luambe NP Sumbu NP Lusenga NP Lukusuzi NP Blue Lagoon NP Lochinvar NP LUSAKA Kitwe Ndola Chipata Isoka Kasama Mpulungu Chirundu Kapiri Mposhi Mkushi Mfuwe Mpika L. Tanganyika L. Bangweulu L. Mweru L. MweruWantipa L. Kariba Zambezi River Luangwa River