The park lies on the Central African Plateau (1,000–1,100 m) along the border with Zambia. The vegetation consists mainly of tall Brachystegia–Julbernardia (miombo)woodland, locally mixed with Combretum and Terminalia. The woodlands are dissected by a network of grassy dambos which drain towards the major rivers of the park (the Dwangwa and Lingadzi). A few bare inselbergs rise above the woodland in the west of the park. There is a small dam on the Lifupa tributary.
See Box and Table 3 for key species. Over 370 species have been recorded; the Zambezian biome species include Ploceus olivaceiceps. Circus macrourus is an uncommon winter visitor while Falco naumanni may be regular on passage. Grus carunculatus has been recorded breeding in the past and one pair at least seems still to be present.
Non-bird biodiversity: Mammals: a small population of Kobus vardoni (LR/cd) had established itself in recent years, the only other in Malawi is in Vwaza Marsh (MW004). The populations of Redunca arundinum (LR/cd) and Alcelaphus lichtensteini (LR/cd) were the second-most important in Malawi, and that of Ourebia ouribi (LR/cd)the largest. Kasungu also contained the largest population of Loxodonta africana (EN) in the country and was the only regular site for Acinonyx jubatus (VU), but see below.
Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
Kasungu gained National Park status in 1970, after having been a Game Reserve since 1930. There are periodic attempts at eradicating the tsetse fly (Glossina spp.) from the area and, were this to be successful, the main threat to the park would be land claim for tobacco-farming and other crops. In recent years, game stocks have been drastically depleted by uncontrolled poaching, and the population of elephant Loxodonta africana is down to 33 at the last count (2000).
BirdLife International (2020) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Kasungu National Park. Downloaded from
http://www.birdlife.org on 26/05/2020.