Barotse Floodplains

Country/territory: Zambia

IBA criteria met: A1, A4i (2001)
For more information about IBA criteria, please click here

Area: 730,000 ha

BirdWatch Zambia
IBA conservation status
Year of assessment (most recent) State (condition) Pressure (threat) Response (action)
2005 unfavourable medium low
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Site description (2001 baseline)
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.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Important Bird Area factsheet: Barotse Floodplains. Downloaded from on 01/12/2023.