ZM031
Luapula Mouth


Year of compilation: 2001

Site description
A large area of Cyperus papyrus swamp in the lowest reaches of the Luapula river as it fans out to meet Lake Mweru. Its western boundary is the main river channel, which is also the international border with the Democratic Republic of Congo, and in the east the wetland has a well-defined edge. The tarmac Mansa–Nchelenge road runs a little way above and parallel to the shoreline, which is fairly densely populated. Within the swamp are scattered open lagoons and a network of small channels, kept navigable by fishermen and inhabitants of the larger islands.

Key biodiversity
See Box and Table 3 for key species. The site has long been known for its isolated population of Chloropeta gracilirostris (of the distinctive race bensoni), but is otherwise little explored. Recent work has revealed that species to be widespread and not uncommon, although easily overlooked. Furthermore, Bradypterus carpalis was discovered in considerable numbers and also found to be widespread. Besides the array of larger waterbirds that may occur, characteristic swamp species include Sarothrura rufa, Centropus cupreicaudus, Merops variegatus, Tchagra minuta, Cisticola pipiens, Bradypterus baboecala, Acrocephalus rufescens, Muscicapa aquatica, Ploceus pelzelni, P. katangae (small range in Zambia) and P. melanocephalus. A second globally threatened species, Falco naumanni, occurs and is perhaps regular on passage.

Non-bird biodiversity: Mammals at the site include Tragelaphus spekii (LR/nt).



Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
A major threat to the site is fire. Whereas most swamp-dwelling species will tolerate a lack of water, it may take months before birds return to areas that have been burnt. Trapping of birds is also widespread.


Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2020) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Luapula Mouth. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 02/12/2020.