Have you ever wondered about what makes some parts of Africa look natural? You can come up with many answers, but one thing is certain that there are certain places in Africa which man does not want to interfere with the natural habitat. Everything looks the way Adam could have left the site. One such place is the South Luangwa National Park situated in the Eastern part of Zambia.
WORLD’S FASCINATING PARK
If you are looking for one of the world’s most fascinating wild safari camps, then look no further because South Luangwa National Park is definitely where safari camp lovers ought to be. It is between 500 to 800 meters above sea-level situated below the steep Muchinga Escarpment which covers the Muchinga and Central Provinces of Zambia while the eastern part provides the means of accessing the park from the Eastern Province of Zambia. The whole park covers an area of 9050 square kilometres.
THE ORIGINAL NAME
South Luangwa National Park was founded in 1904 as the Luangwa Game Park. Later it was renamed Luangwa Game Reserve in 1938. In 1972, South Luangwa acquired its current name.
DIFFERENT ANIMAL AND BIRD SPECIES
Is there any African wild animal you would like to see in its natural habitat? Think of any wild animal and any bird and you are likely to see it in the South Luangwa National Park. It is home to over four hundred out of about seven hundred and fifty bird species found in Zambia. As for animals, a number of sixty different species provides a good variety for wild safari sight.
THE THORNICROFT’S GIRAFFE
Alternatively known as the Rhodesian Giraffe, the Thornicroft’s Giraffe have found a comfortable home in the South Luangwa National Park in spite of predators such as lions. You can enjoy seeing them every now and then. This species restricts itself to South Luangwa National Park only.
The common phrase in Zambia used to be “THE BIG FIVE” referring to the Lion, the elephant, the buffalo, the rhinoceros and the leopard. In the past four decades, it was common to see more than ten thousand rhinoceros in the South Luangwa National Park alone. However, due to rampant poaching that existed without involving ownership of wildlife to the surrounding community, it is now rare to find a rhinoceros in the park. It has now become common only to see the big four instead of the big five. In this park alone, it is not uncommon to come across a pride with up to thirty lions.
THE ELUSIVE LEOPARD
Some tourists do not manage to see the elusive leopard during day tours and so they request for night tours when spotlights are used. The leopards make an amazing sight high up some big trees where they can easily spot their prey and easily pounce on them with admirable agility. It would descend in a stylish manner, pounce on its prey and kill it before dragging it up the tree to enjoy the night’s feast.
Apart from the Thornicroft’s giraffe and the big five animals, the South Luangwa National park hosts abundant wildlife that no park or game reserve can surpass it. The meandering Luangwa River has many oxbow pools that attract different species of animals in the dry season. It is the time to see how densely populated the animals are in this awesome national park. That is the best time to visit the park and enjoy the walking safaris. The river is also infested with the crocodiles and hippopotamuses.
WALKING SAFARI IN THE SOUTH LUANGWA NATIONAL PARK
The origin of “walking safari” sprung from this national park with a high concentration of wildlife. Some tourists would be driven deep into the park and would then leave the vehicles to walk with game scouts to enjoy seeing both big and small animals. They would look at hiding holes for warthogs, rabbits and ant-eating animals. They would also marvel at the cunning crocodile trying to catch its prey as it comes to the river to drink water. Sometimes they would see how a python traps and kills its prey by squeezing the life out of its victim before enjoying its newfound meal.
ANTELOPES, DUIKERS AND OTHERS
Some animals are found in the park to sustain the livelihood of many predators. As you enjoy your walking safari, you would have to meet many antelopes and duikers in large numbers. Other animals would include the following: Crawshay’s Zebra, Cookson’s wildebeest, bush baby, eland, impala, puku, deer and porcupine. These and many other grazing animals are enough to sustain many prides of lions some of which are up to thirty. Apart from the lions, the cheetahs, leopards and hyenas have continuous feasts which other animals in other parks and game reserves are deprived of. Wild dogs are also a common sight in the South Luangwa National Park.
SOME BIRD SPECIES
Some bird species one is likely to meet in this park include the hawks, vultures, crows, yellow-billed storks, the woodpecker, African skimmer, swallows, little bee-eater, white pelicans and many others. The bats enjoy their stay in the caves.
COMBINING WILD SAFARI CAMPING WITH ZAMBIAN CULTURAL CEREMONIES
Some of the cultural traditional ceremonies for the Ngoni speaking people of Zambia where the park is situated celebrate their festivals in the rainy season. Therefore, it becomes general knowledge that some safari campers may join in the traditional ceremonies and have an unforgettable experience.
THE COMMUNITY’S SENSE OF OWNERSHIP
With the near-extinct of the white rhinoceros due to rampant poaching and for fear of wild animal depletion in this park, the government of the Republic of Zambia, with the assistance of WWF, moved into the community to sensitize the community against poaching. With the right incentives, the community promised to gather their resources and do whatever they could to discourage poachers.
RESULTS OF COMMUNITY SENSITIZATION
The community realized the many benefits of wildlife in their area. Well-equipped schools and clinics were constructed for the community, while some locals were employed to be game scouts. Others were incorporated into the hospitality industry. The nearest town to the park is Mfuwe which has grown into a town from a simple rural set up because of the thriving tourism industry. With such visible benefits, there have been many media reports concerning the vigilance of the community against poaching.
Because of the Muchinga Escarpment, entrance into the park is done from the Eastern Province in Mfuwe town. You can come by plane from Lusaka or from Malawi. One thing is clear upon entering this national park. You shall relive your memories and enjoying every moment of it because you have had a chance to see the natural habitat of the animal kingdom.