Liuwa Plain in western Zambia has one of the longest conservation histories in Africa, dating back to the late 19th century when the King of Barotseland appointed his people as the custodians of the reserve.

Liuwa Plain National Park in Zambia has one of the longest conservation histories in Africa, dating back to the 19th century when the King of Barotseland, Lubosi Lewanika, appointed his people as custodians of the landscape. But, by the turn of this century, decades of unsustainable land-use, poaching and human-wildlife conflict had caused a large decline in species such as wildebeest and zebra, allowed agriculture to threaten the grasslands, and reduced the lion population to just one lonely lioness, “Lady Liuwa”. In 2003, realising what was at stake, the Department of National Parks and Wildlife (DNPW) and the Barotse Royal Establishment (BRE) invited African Parks to help restore the legacy of Liuwa Plain. As a result of effective conservation law enforcement, poaching decreased and community land-use plans were implemented along with sustainable fish harvesting and other community projects, providing alternative livelihoods for local people. In 2008, African Parks began a series of lion reintroductions, and a new life began for Lady Liuwa as she joined a pride. Over a similar period, eland and buffalo were reintroduced to the park and plains game began to increase, providing a healthy prey base for the predators: lion, cheetah and hyaena.

Today, with over 10,000 people legally living within the park, Liuwa is a prime example of how people and wildlife can coexist and benefit in a shared landscape. Helping protect the land for the benefit of local people to continue accessing its natural resources sustainably is enhanced through ongoing community engagement and integration. In addition, communities are supported through socio-economic initiatives, employment and tourism revenue that is generated as Liuwa becomes a major tourist attraction. Now that the landscape is once again a source of stability and abundance, the people of Liuwa have renewed their commitment and sense of custodianship to their land.

Liuwa Plain Highlights

  • Wildebeest have increased steadily over the years, making Liuwa’s annual wildebeest migration the second largest in Africa.
  • The lion population continues to grow, 16 individuals counted in 2022, thanks to three litters born in the year.
  • Liuwa is the largest employer in the region with more than 95% of its workforce being local residents.
  • Over 230 school children have received scholarships annually, and more than 4,000 local farmers have benefited from skills training and human-wildlife mitigation tools.
  • The Farmer Field Schools (FFS), an agricultural education programme, has resulted in nearly 5,000 farmers practicing sustainable farming methods.


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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