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November 2008 Travel Zambia 45 Wildlife focus and, in this case, ZAWA. The practicalities of such a demanding project are an immense undertaking for a parastatal like ZAWA, but, in partnership with the NLCP, its achievements have been impressive. In 2003, two years after the initial proposal was tabled, the first five black rhinos were flown to a tiny ( all things are relative!) bush airstrip in NLNP. In 2006 ten more arrived and in May 2008 we received another five. The aim was to repopulate the park using a minimum ' founder' group of animals in order to ensure the best chance of survival and genetic diversity. The animals were all donated in a three- way initiative between the Governments of Zambia, Namibia and South Africa, in which the South African National Parks, North West Parks Board and East Cape Parks Board all played important roles. The process sounds simple in theory. The rhinos were captured about six to eight weeks prior to flying to Zambia. During this critical period they were ' boma trained' by specialists and introduced to their transport crates ( just like the ones oranges come in, but stronger!). A boma is a large holding pen, and a wild- caught rhino doesn't always take kindly to being confined. But black rhinos are surprisingly good in captive situations and often settle much faster than their white rhino cousins – contrary to their relative natures in the wild. Treats such as sweet potatoes and sugar cane sticks often helped encourage ' good behaviour' and the rhinos were quick to catch on. In the meantime, however, there was a frantic scramble to ensure everything else was in place for a trouble- free journey north to Zambia. Paperwork, planes, dignitaries, food, bomas, fences, reserve airstrips ( in case a freak rain storm wrecks the first one), health certificates, practice runs, shopping, gear – even loo roll: all had to be organised, with the nearest shop over 300km away and no telephone to speak of. Needless to say huge favours were called upon, and a great deal of gratitude is owed to many people for helping us through those final few days. Once it arrived, each rhino was given time to recover from the journey and get used to life north of the Limpopo. Since then, one by one, they have all been released to walk free on Zambian soil. All except Intanda. At two years she's the youngster of the group, so she has been kept for the longest to get her in the best condition before release. As I type this, Intanda is lying quietly in her boma. Little does she know that under tonight's full moon it will be her ' star' turn to walk out of the door to a new life in North Luangwa. Black rhino fact file Total African population: ± 3,600 Subspecies found in NLNP: Diceros bicornis minor Weight of adult male: up to 1500kg Speed: 55kph Lifespan in the wild: 30 years Horns: two, made of keratin ( as in fingernails) Feeding behaviour: mainly a solitary nocturnal browser Gestation: 16 months, producing a single 30– 40kg calf Predators: man, lion or hyena occasionally take young Conservation history: population in 19th Century numbered ' several hundred thousands'; fell rapidly during 20th Century, plummeting in 1970s– 1980s; poaching fuelled by market for horn, as dagger handles in Yemen and traditional medicines in Far East; poaching remains the greatest threat. 1986: NLCP begins conducting large mammal census surveys in NLNP 1998: black rhino declared ' presumed nationally extinct' 1998: Frankfurt Zoological Society signs agreement with Government of Zambia on NLCP management in NLNP 2001: SADC Regional Rhino Conservation Programme assessment finds NLNP to be suitable for the reintroduction of minimum 20 animals May 2003: five black rhino arrive from South Africa Early 2005: first Zambian- bred black rhino calf born for nearly two decades June 2006: ten black rhinos arrive from South Africa May 2008: five more black rhinos arrive from South Africa N orth Luangwa rhino reintroduction: key dates

Zambia is a treasure trove for birders: huge expanses of wilderness means that birding is rewarding wherever you go and every roadside stop is potentially exciting. It is hard to miss such dazzling species as bateleur and lilac- breasted roller, but to experience the full diversity of Zambia's birdlife, you need to visit the very best sites. Pete Leonard is author of Important Bird Areas in Zambia and has coordinated many important ornithological projects around the country. Now back in his native UK, he here selects 14 of the top birding locations around the country. Vakacha Around Zambia · Zambia by water · safari news · travel latest · a helping hand · reviews Around Zambia: Top Birding Spots 46 Travel Zambia November 2008 1 Mwinilunga District A must for any serious Zambian birder, with an array of species unknown elsewhere in the country. Hillwood Farm, near Ikelenge, makes an ideal base from which to explore. Try the Chitunta Plain ( Grimwood's longclaw ( left), black- and- rufous swallow), the Zambezi Source ( honeyguide greenbul, red- breasted paradise flycatcher), the Zambezi Rapids ( Forbes's plover), the forests in the Jimbe drainage ( chestnut wattle- eye, white- spotted flufftail) and the mavunda forests of Lukwakwa GMA ( gorgeous bush shrike, Margaret's batis). Timing: all year, best July– Oct. 3 Simungoma In thickets beside the Sesheke road look for specialities such as tit- babbler, crimson- breasted shrike and scaly- feathered finch. To the south, explore the Zambezi floodplain for kori Bustard and Burchell's sandgrouse. In the mopane south- east of Mulobezi, look for Africa's most localised parrot, black- cheeked lovebird ( above). Timing: all year ( July– Oct best for lovebirds). 6 Lochinvar National Park Zambia's premier wetland, famous for staggering concentrations of waterbirds such as white pelicans ( left), openbill storks and wattled cranes. Worth exploring thoroughly as the best areas change with the seasons. Timing: all year; best July– Nov and hard- going after heavy rain. 7 Kasanka National Park A wonderful variety of habitats and birds. Look for Böhm's bee- eater ( left), Lady Ross's turaco and Pel's fishing owl around the forests, black- collared eremomela and Anchieta's barbet in the miombo, and scan pans for African pygmy goose. Timing: all year. 4 Mutinondo Wilderness Superb miombo birding and one of the best places to see species such as bar- winged weaver, thick- billed cuckoo and red- and- blue sunbird. Search the kopjes for mocking chat and freckled nightjar, and begin your quest for long- toed flufftails in the dambos. Timing: all year. 5 Eastern Highlands Over 40 Zambian species are restricted to the Nyika Plateau and Mafinga Mountains. Best accessed through Malawi, the forests are particularly special ( bar- tailed trogon, white- chested alethe), but ensure you also explore the grasslands ( Denham's bustard ( left), blue swallow) and the protea scrub ( scarlet- tufted malachite sunbird). 2 Bangweulu Swamps Deservedly famous for its population of shoebills, which are easiest to see in the Chikuni area. Also home to large numbers of other waterbirds, such as wattled cranes. In the rains, displaying long- tailed whydahs ( aka widowbirds) are obvious from the main Samfya road. Timing: some areas all year but less accessible in rains; Apr– June best for shoebills. mik e. harrison@ harrisonclear. coco. uk 1 3 11 12 Pete Leonard Mike Unwin Pete Leonard Pete Leonard Liuwa Plain NP Sioma Ngwezi NP West Lunga NP Kafue NP Mwinilunga Solwezi Limulunga Mongu Kaoma Livingstone Kazungula Victoria Falls Zambezi River Kafue River