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, where they maintain that sentiment today. With over 10,000 people living within the park, Liuwa is a living 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.

Highlights

  • When African Parks assumed  management of Liuwa Plain, there was just one female lion remaining, the famous Lady Liuwa. The park boosted the population by introducing additional lions to create a small but growing pride of currently 10 individuals. .
  • The wildebeest migration is the second largest on the continent, and contributes significantly  to tourism contributing to local employment and new revenue streams.
  • Tourism received an important boost in April 2017 with the opening of the long-awaited luxury camp, King Lewanika Lodge, and visitors also arrivals continued to staygrow at the park’s community-owned campsites.
  • Liuwa has been selected at a one of the top 52 destinations to visit in 2018 by the New York Times, and the King Lewanika Lodge made Travel + Leisure’s hotel “It List” for 2018.
  • Liuwa’s carnivore population is on the rise; the cheetah population is recovering with the addition of seven cubs; and the spotted hyaena population is thriving with an estimated population of over 500.
  • An aerial census conducted in 2017 indicated an increase in the number of wildebeest, eland and buffalo while tsessebe, lechwe and zebra populations remain stable.
  • A Community Development Fund provides monthly payments towards community infrastructure projects including anti-poaching initiatives.
  • A combination of community engagement, educational programmes, and effective law enforcement has resulted in a widespread understanding that a decrease in poaching results in direct benefits for local communities.
  • Working with communities, and the effective use of an informant network, has led to a number of arrests, weapon seizures and convictions.
  • Liuwa’s Environmental Education Programme has seen the introduction of conservation clubs at several schools in and around the park, increasing environmental awareness amongst local children.

Partners

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

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