Liuwa Plain National Park in 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 the custodians of the landscape. Today they maintain that sentiment. 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 in a shared landscape. Each year, Liuwa hosts the second largest wildebeest migration on the continent, numbering around 30,000 individuals – this is one of the most glorious spectacles on the planet. But this was not always the case. Before African Parks assumed management of Liuwa in 2003, in partnership with the Department of National Parks and Wildlife (DNPW) and the Barotse Royal Establishment, wildebeest and zebra were in steep decline, grasslands were threatened by rice fields, and all but one lonely lioness remained, “Lady Liuwa”.

In 2008, African Parks began a series of lion reintroductions to reunite this last lioness with her own kind, and thus new life began as she slowly joined a pride that grew to 10 lions. Over a similar period, eland and buffalo were reintroduced to the park and the plains game began to increase, providing a healthy prey base for the lions, as well as for cheetahs and hyaenas. As a result of effective law enforcement, poaching levels subsided and community land-use plans were implemented along with sustainable fish harvesting and other community projects, providing alternative livelihoods for local people. Today the park is the largest employer in the region, providing critical educational and health benefits to community members. Through ongoing community engagement and integration, Liuwa continues to uplift the community’s social economic status, while at the same time helping to renew people’s feeling of custodianship for the landscape once again.

Liuwa Plain Highlights

  • Liuwa’s wildebeest migration is the second largest on the continent. These charismatic animals and the lions who follow them have become world-renowned, landing the park on the New York Times ’52 Top Places to Visit’ list in 2018. 
  • Liuwa is the largest employer in the region with over 95% of its workforce being local residents. Over 200 children have received scholarships, and more than 4,000 local farmers have benefited from skills training and human-wildlife mitigation tools.
  • An annual aerial survey in 2021 documented an increase of wildebeest to over 34,000. In addition eleven African wild dogs, three females from Kafue and eight males from South Africa, were relocated to Liuwa.
  • In 2021, the Farmer Field Schools (FFS), an agricultural education programme, resulted in over 4,000 student farmers signing up to learn about conservation-based farming methods.
  • Thanks to our partnership with Time+Tide, Liuwa now has a five-star luxury camp, King Lewanika Lodge, which was featured in TIME Magazine’s ‘2018 100 Greatest Places’ and Travel + Leisure’s hotel ‘It List’ for 2018.

Partners

In 2003, African Parks entered into a partnership with the Department of National Parks & Wildlife (DNPW) and the Barotse Royal Establishment (BRE) (the traditional stewards of the Lozi people), to manage the park.

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