Liuwa Plain National Park & Zambian Carnivore Programme & Zoological Society of London | 13 July 2020
Cheetah Documented for First Time in Transboundary Movement Between Zambia’s Liuwa Plain and Angola
Lusaka, Zambia: In an exciting development Liuwa Plain National Park in Zambia has for the first time documented cheetah moving between Zambia and Angola, providing new insight into the dynamics of the area’s important cheetah population. Researchers from the Greater Liuwa Project – collaborative conservation research work by the Department of National Parks and Wildlife (DNPW), Zambian Carnivore Programme, and African Parks – have long suspected that these cheetah are transboundary with Angola, but this is the first official record since the start of the project in 2010 as evidence of a cheetah crossing the Angolan border.
“This is encouraging news. A prior survey led by DNPW and ZCP found a worryingly low population of cheetah in the wider region. Safeguarding connectivity to support an expanding population will secure the survival of cheetah in this landscape” said Mr. Alstone Mwanza, the DNPW’s Country Coordinator for Cheetah and Wild Dog Conservation.
After reaching maturity and splitting from her family group, a cheetah collared for monitoring purposes dispersed far to the north-west of the park, eventually passing into Angola. The cheetah subsequently appeared to move back east into Zambia, returning to wildlife-rich parts of the Upper West Zambezi Game Management Area (GMA). These movements are an important indicator of the significance of this GMA as a wildlife corridor connecting Angola and Liuwa Plain, a vital natural system for people and wildlife.
Liuwa Plain National Park, which has been managed through a partnership between the DNPW, Barotse Royal Establishment (BRE) and conservation non-profit African Parks since 2003, is surrounded by the Upper West Zambezi GMA, sections of which are of great importance to the area’s wildlife. The landscape hosts the second largest wildebeest migration on the continent and is a substantial catchment area of the Zambezi river. As a result of close work with the DNPW, communities, ZCP and other partners, Liuwa’s wildlife populations including its carnivores have steadily increased. Communities are benefitting from education, health and sustainable livelihood programmes, and tourism and employment have risen, improving revenue and helping to create a conservation-led economy.
“These new insights into the cross-border movement of cheetah from Liuwa Plain underline the significance of this vital transboundary landscape for many species and the value of partnerships, including the commitment of Zambia’s DNPW and the BRE to Liuwa’s long-term protection” said Liuwa Plain Park Manager Deon Joubert. “By securing the integrity of this ecosystem, together we can ensure the preservation of biodiversity and enhancement of natural resources, building sustainability for the benefit of thousands of local people living within Liuwa and in the larger landscape, and its wildlife”.
Progressive Government actions are key to the protection of these globally important, connected natural areas. The Angolan Government, through the Instituto Nacional da Biodiversidade e Áreas de Conservação (INBAC), have developed a project supported by the Zoological Society of London, through the Range Wide Conservation Program for Cheetah and African Wild Dogs, to conduct biodiversity surveys to quantify and spatially map the species richness and conservation potential of the Angolan part of the landscape. “The Mussuma area that connects Cameia National Park with Liuwa Plain and other land use areas in Zambia, represents an important ecological corridor for the species living in that area. The presence of large carnivores (cheetahs) represents an important indicator of the landscape’s health status”, said Aristófanes Pontes, former INBAC Director.
Notes to Editors
About Liuwa Plain National Park: Liuwa Plain National Park in western Zambia has one of the oldest conservation histories in Africa, dating back to the 19th century when the King of Barotseland, Lubosi Lewanika, appointed his people to be the custodians of the park and its wildlife. Zambia’s Department of National Parks and Wildlife (DNPW), Barotse Royal Establishment (BRE) and African Parks partnered in 2003 for the management of this 3,369 km2 landscape. Its globally important grassland ecosystem hosts the second largest wildebeest migration in Africa, important carnivore populations and significant bird diversity. With an estimated 10,000 people legally living within the park, Liuwa is a prime example of how people and wildlife can co-exist and benefit from a healthy and well-managed landscape. To find out more visit www.africanparks.org
About ZCP: Zambian Carnivore Programme is a non-profit Zambian organization dedicated to conserving large carnivores and ecosystems through conservation science, conservation action, and empowerment of local leadership. ZCP works across Zambia’s wildlife strongholds in partnership with the DNPW as well as with local and international conservation organizations. For more information, visit www.zambiacarnivores.org
About ZSL: Zoological Society of London is an international conservation charity working to create a world where wildlife thrives. From investigating the health threats facing animals to helping people and wildlife live alongside each other, ZSL is committed to bringing wildlife back from the brink of extinction. Our work is realised through our ground-breaking science, our field conservation around the world and engaging millions of people through our two zoos, ZSL London Zoo and ZSL Whipsnade Zoo. For more information, visit www.zsl.org
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