Upemba National Park

Year of compilation: 2001

Site description
Upemba National Park is a large area in the south-east of the country, situated on the Kibara plateau and bordered in the west by the Lualaba (or Upper Congo) river and numerous lakes, among which Lake Upemba is the largest. The habitat of the plateau consists mainly of gently rolling grasslands at altitudes of between 1,750 m and 1,800 m. These are cut by numerous streams, which rise on the plateau and are lined with gallery forest. Rainwater accumulates in depressions of variable size, forming permanent ponds or temporary swamps, which are particularly numerous at the end of the rainy season. The grasslands are bordered by Uapaca-dominated woodland. On the slopes of the plateau and especially on the Lake Upemba plain, Brachystegia and Isoberlinia woodlands occur. During the dry season large areas of grassland are burnt. There are some villages in the western part of the park. Annual rainfall averages between 1,200 mm and 1,400 mm; February–March are the wettest months.

Key biodiversity
See Box and Tables 2 and 3 for key species. Estrilda nigriloris is restricted to grassy plains around the Lualaba river and Lake Upemba. The race lippensi of the endangered Zoothera guttata has been described from a single specimen from montane forest in Upemba. Grus carunculatus is not uncommon on the plateau. Balaeniceps rex has been recorded nesting. There are also records of Falco naumanni and Crex crex. In addition, four species of the Guinea–Congo Forests biome and three of the Afrotropical Highlands biome have been recorded (see Table 3).

Non-bird biodiversity: No recent information is available. Mammals of global conservation concern recorded in the past include Loxodonta africana (EN).

Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
The reserve was established in 1939. In the 1970s the park was substantially enlarged to include the lakes and the wetlands of the Lualaba river. The park is managed by ICCN; in the extension, the so-called ‘zone annexe’, settlements are authorized, under the supervision of ICCN. Surveillance has, however, broken down in recent years. Poaching and encroachment by farmers and pastoralists may be expected to be the major threats.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2022) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Upemba National Park. Downloaded from on 08/12/2022.