Barotse Floodplains

Year of compilation: 2001

Site description
The West Zambezi Game Management Area is situated to the west of the main river channel of the immense Zambezi flood-plain. Following good rains, much of the area becomes inundated between about February and June. At this time the area near Mongu hosts the traditional Kuomboka ceremony of the Losi people, when the king (Litunga) is transported, in an ornate boat, to his palace on higher ground. During the dry season, people move into temporary villages and cultivate large areas of the flood-plain. Much of the area is poorly known and more work is required to define the exact limits of an IBA.

Key biodiversity
See Box for key species. Although more data are required, the area is undoubtedly important for waterbirds, and species such as Phalacrocorax africanus, Anastomus lamelligerus, Charadrius asiaticus and Chlidonias hybridus are known to exceed their 1% thresholds. Among species of global conservation concern, Circus macrourus and Gallinago media are non-breeding visitors, as is Falco naumanni (also a passage migrant), and Grus carunculatus is a common resident or visitor, while Egretta vinaceigula has been noted occasionally. Seven species occur that are restricted to the Zambezian biome (see Table 3).

Non-bird biodiversity: An endemic species of Hemisus frog is known from the site. The flora and fauna of the area are poorly known, but very few large mammals remain.

Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
The area is relatively highly populated and there is likely to be much subsistence hunting, but the extent and nature of other threats are not known and require further investigation. Recently there have been attempts to re-establish traditional land-management practices, which would benefit the environment.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2020) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Barotse Floodplains. Downloaded from on 29/11/2020.