Liuwa Plain National Park in Zambia has one of the oldest conservation histories in Africa, dating back to the 19th century where the King of Barotseland, Lubosi Lewanika, appointed his people to be the custodians of the park and its wildlife. They maintain that sentiment today. With over 12,500 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 – without fanfare, 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, wildebeest and zebra were in steep decline, rice fields threatened grasslands, and all but one lonely lioness “Lady Liuwa” roamed the plains.  

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 the same period, eland and buffalo were also reintroduced to the park and the plains game began to increase, providing a healthy prey base for the lions, as well as for the 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. Sadly, 2017 saw the natural passing of Lady Liuwa who lived to the ripe old age of 18 years old, but she left behind a legacy of a small but growing pride of lions, living their lives together on Liuwa’s flourishing plains.

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.  
  • 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.
  • Liuwa now employs 123 full-time employees and 104 seasonal workers, making it the largest employer in the region with over 90% of its work force being local residents.
  • Liuwa supports 28 schools that provide education to more than 11,000 students and covers 89 scholarships a year.
  • In 2003 after decades of poaching only a single lion, Lady Liuwa, roamed the park but subsequent lion introductions over the years has helped create a healthy pride of 10 individuals, including two cubs that were born in 2018.
  • Liuwa’s carnivore population is on the rise; the cheetah population is recovering with the addition of 16 cubs in 2018; and the spotted hyaena population is thriving with an estimated population of over 500.
  • An aerial census conducted in 2018 indicated consistent growth among the park’s key ungulate species: 40,000 wildebeest, 5,000 plains zebra, 2,200 red lechwe, 230 tsessebe and 152 Cape buffalo were recorded.

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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