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46 Travel Zambia November 2007 To the average visitor, especially newcomers to Africa, Zambia’s wildlife is little short of mind-boggling. It’s not just the spectacular, crowd-pulling ‘megafauna’, such as lions and elephants, but also the sheer variety and abundance that takes the breath away. Whether it’s big game that you’re after, or your aim is to tick off some of Zambia’s 779 species of bird, every corner of the country has a treat in store. The map below reveals just a few of the highlights. Vakacha Around Zambia · itineraries · self-drive · safari news · travel latest · a helping hand · volunteering Around Zambia Nile crocodile Crocodiles are a feature of most lakes and waterways across Zambia – notably the Zambezi, Luangwa and Kafue rivers. These massive reptiles, which have remained virtually unchanged since the days of dinosaurs, may live for more than 90 years and reach five metres in length. So keep away from the water’s edge. Chaplin’s barbet Chaplin’s barbet is Zambia’s only endemic bird. It is confined to the Kafue Basin in the south-central region, between Lusaka and Kafue National Park, where it breeds in large sycamore fig trees. You can identify this chunky little bird by its red forehead and thick, powerful bill. Leopard Probably no country in Africa offers a better chance of seeing this elegant and elusive cat, which remains top of many safari-goers’ wish list. Smaller and more solitary than lions, leopards are primarily nocturnal – and night drives, especially in South Luanwga and Kafue, are especially productive. Listen at night for the rasping, saw-like territorial call. Cranes Cranes are celebrated the world-over for their elegance and spectacular courtship dances. Zambia has two species, the wattled crane, pictured here, and grey crowned crane. Both are easy to see on grasslands and flooded wetlands around the country, especially in the Kafue Flats region. Wild dog There are fewer than 5,000 wild dogs left in Africa, but Zambia remains one of the best places in which to glimpse this fascinating and endangered predator, with Kafue, South Luangwa, Luambe and the Lower Zambezi all being good locations. Packs wander vast distances, so sightings are never predictable. Pel’s fishing owl This massive, orange-ochre owl is another drawcard for birders – and relatively easy to see in many parts of the country, including the Luangwa Valley, Kafue and Kasanka. It holes up in dense riverine forest by day, emerging after dark to snatch its prey from the water, fish eagle-style, in lethal talons. PHILIP PERRY LIZANNE ROXBURGH NANZHILA PLAINS FRANCOIS SAVIGNY / NPL MIKE UNWIN 4 2 1 3 6 Mwinilunga Solwezi Limulunga Mongu Kaoma Livingstone Kazungula Victoria Falls Zambezi River Kafue River Liuwa Plain NP Sioma Ngwezi NP West Lunga NP Kafue NP

November 2007 Travel Zambia 47 Roan antelope The handsome, horse-like roan is Africa’s second largest antelope, but also one of its most elusive. Small herds can be seen in a number of areas, including Kafue, Kasanka and Liuwa, but the best spot is undoubtedly the Nyika Plateau. Here roan thrive on the thin soils and are a common sight trooping along the ridge tops. Thornicroft’s giraffe Nothing unusual about giraffes, you might think. But the Luangwa valley has its own unique subspecies – the endemic Thornicroft’s giraffe, found nowhere else in Africa. It can be distinguished by its dark body markings, pale face and unmarked legs below the knees. Shoebill The shoebill, visible in only a handful of locations across Africa, is a top prize for birders. This huge bird uses its capacious, hook-tipped bill to catch lungfish, and is generally hidden in the depths of papyrus swamps. Zambia’s Bangweulu wetlands offer excellent and reliable viewing – especially for those prepared to get a little wet. Elephant Numbers of jumbos are slowly rising in Zambia. Good populations are found in the Luangwa, Kafue and Zambezi regions, with smaller numbers scattered elsewhere around the country. The Zambezi Valley offers the spectacular sight of herds crossing the river, trunks held aloft like snorkels. Fruit bats Every November and December up to six million straw-coloured fruit bats gather to roost in the evergreen swamp forest of Kasanka National Park. This is Zambia’s largest gathering of mammals, its combined weight equivalent to 1,000 elephants. Enjoy spectacular views from the Kibwe hide, where for half an hour at dusk the sky is blackened with bats. Hippo Hippos are widespread across Africa, but nowhere will you find them in greater concentrations than the Luangwa Valley, especially towards the end of the dry season when gatherings of hundreds squeeze into the shrinking pools and river loops. For an even closer encounter, try canoeing the Zambezi. 0200 miles1000300 km100200NTZ MIKE UNWIN MIKE UNWIN ARIADNE VAN ZANDBERGEN KAFUNTA SAFARIS KIERAN DODDS SAUSAGE TREE CAMP 5 7 8 9 10 11 12 LUSAKA Kitwe Ndola Chipata Isoka Kasama Mpulungu Chirundu Kapiri Mposhi Mkushi Mfuwe Mpika L. Tanganyika L. Bangweulu L. Mweru Wantipa L. Mweru L. Kariba Zambezi River Luangwa River Lower Zambezi NP Kasanka NP South Luangwa NP North Luangwa NP Luambe NP Sumbu NP Lusenga NP Lukusuzi NP Blue Lagoon NP Lochinvar NP