About 200 km west of Lusaka, Zambia’s biggest National Park covers a large area of the Kafue drainage above the flats. The gently undulating terrain is dominated by a miombo–dambo mosaic and in the south there are patches of mopane and mutemwa (notably the Ngoma forest). In the north-west corner of the park are the Busanga swamps and surrounding flood-plain, and along the major rivers is riparian forest. Near the point where the Kafue leaves the park is the Itezhi-Tezhi dam, behind which an area of between 300–400 km² has been flooded. In the rains, most roads become impassable. There are a number of tourist lodges within the park, some of which allow camping, and there are also some seasonal camps.
See Box and Tables 2 and 3 for key species. Agapornis nigrigenis is a breeding resident in the blocks of mopane in the south, and both Grus carunculatus (common breeding resident) and Egretta vinaceigula (irregular visitor, possibly breeds) can be found at scattered localities throughout. Circus macrourus, Falco naumanni, Crex crex and Gallinago media all winter, while Phoenicopterus minor and Gyps coprotheres are rare vagrants. Finally, among globally threatened species, Lybius chaplini is an uncommon and very local resident. A wide variety of Zambezian biome endemics occur, including Merops boehmi, Coracias spatulatus, Lanius souzae and Muscicapa boehmi. Large numbers of waterbirds may be found in the Busanga swamps and during the rains there is much dispersal to smaller flood-plains, dambos and pans throughout the park. Guttera pucherani inhabits the dense thickets in the south and along the main rivers are species such as Podica senegalensis, Glareola nuchalis, Rynchops flavirostris, Scotopelia peli and Alcedo semitorquata. Phoenicopterus minor and Gyps coprotheres are rare vagrants.
Non-bird biodiversity: A wide variety of mammals are known to occur, including Lycaon pictus (EN), Acinonyx jubatus (VU), Loxodonta africana (EN), Cephalophus silvicultor (LR/nt) and Pipistrellus anchietae (VU). A tiny number of Diceros bicornis (CR) may still survive, though these are unlikely to represent a viable population.
Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
There has been widespread illegal hunting in the park and considerable areas hold very few large mammals. Although this must have ecological implications, it is not clear to what extent birds have been affected. Much of the park is uninhabited and inaccessible, but human encroachment perhaps needs to be assessed and monitored.
BirdLife International (2023) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Kafue National Park. Downloaded from
http://www.birdlife.org on 27/03/2023.