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Luembe Chiefdom, Nyimba, Zambia

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munyamadzi game reseve lower luangwa valley Zambia
Zambia Tourism Agency

Wildlife

The Luangwa Valley is famous for its populations of large mammals, having an exceptionally high density of both leopard and hippo, healthy lion populations and a large number of elephant and buffalo.  Thornicroft giraffe – a species endemic to the Luangwa Valley – are a common sight for visitors.  The rivers are teeming with hippo pods, with approximately 50 – 100 individuals per kilometre on the most heavily populated stretches of the Luangwa River in our area.  Crocodiles are often seen swimming or sunning themselves on the warm sandy banks of the Luangwa River.

The bush along the river at Munyamadzi supports a host of species including waterbuck, Chobe bushbuck, impala, puku and many more. The Mopane and Miombo woodlands are home to large herds of buffalo and roan, kudu, common duiker, Sharpe’s grysbok  and Lichtenstein’s hartebeest, with klipspringer found in the rockier areas.  Warthog and vervet monkeys are often seen on the Reserve as well as several species of mongoose and the adorable tree squirrel.   Waterbuck, impala, puku and baboons are often seen on the other side of the river from camp in the mornings and evenings, with lions making an appearance every so often.

Munyamadzi is proud to have a healthy mix of carnivore species including spotted hyena, leopard and lion (both listed as vulnerable by IUCN) and wild dog (listed as endangered by IUCN).  Our wild dog sightings are most frequent towards the end of the dry season and in the wet season.  Caracal and serval are also present but are rather cryptic and not easily spotted.

For a downloadable list of the mammals present at Munyamadzi, click here.

Birdlife

The Luangwa Valley is classed as an Important Bird Area (IBA) by BirdWatch Zambia, the BirdLife International partner in Zambia.  Many species of bird are commonly sighted at Munyamadzi include yellow billed storks, southern ground hornbill, Meyer’s parrots, red bishops, various widow birds, Meve's starling, Arnott's chat, green pigeon, crested guinea fowl, Narina trogon, various swifts and swallows, over five types of kingfisher, African fish eagle, and many more.  Several species of vulture are also seen as well as marabou storks and various herons and egrets.  A pair of green malkoha are resident just a 20 minute walk from camp; this is unusual as they are well out of their recorded range.

Special sightings include Pel’s fishing owl, Lillian’s lovebirds, the migratory Angolan pitta and black stork, purple-crested lourie/turaco, bathawks and the charismatic carmine bee eaters at the end of the dry season.

For a downloadable list of birds found at Munyamadzi, click here.

Habitat

Miombo woodland

Dominated by Brachystegia spp., Julbernardia spp. and Isoberlina spp. – is two-storeyed and open to semi-closed canopy up to 21 m high.  Other characteristic canopy species include Pterocarpus angolensis, Pericopsis angolensis, Faurea saligna, Syzygium guineense and Parinari curatellifolia.  The under-story, while dominated by tall grasses in the wet season, is relatively open with shrubs infrequent although herbs are common.  Miombo woodland does not do well with seasonal flooding and extreme drought so is not extremely common on the Valley floor, occurring more frequently in hilly terrain.

Mopane woodland

Named after the Colophospermum mopane tree which dominates the vegetation type – is perhaps the most obvious woodland type at Munyamadzi as it is usually present as one-storyed woodland.  Appearance varies from short, coppicing trees giving a thicket-look, to tall Cathedral Mopane with very sparse understory.  Mopane trees are well suited to living on the Valley floor, being adapted to high temperatures and the seasonally flooded to almost completely dry alluvial soils.  It may be punctuated by Baobab (Adansonia digitata), Knobthorn (Acacia nigrescens) and Leadwood (Combretum imberbe) trees.

Munga woodland

Commonly called ‘savannah’ – is very open in comparison to Miombo and Mopane, is one to two storeyed and common on the Valley floor.  Dominant tree species, Acacia, Combretum and Terminalia, grow up to 18 – 20 m high.  Other common tree genera include Adansonia (Baobab), Albizia, Amblygonocarpus (Scottish rattle), Borassus and Hyphaene (palms), Burkea, Xeroderris, Kigelia (Sausage tree), Pilostigma (monkey bread), Ficus (fig), Pseudolachnostylis (Kudu berry), Sclerocarya (Marula tree), Strychnos (wooden orange) and Tamarindus (tamarind tree), among others.  Thicket may be found dotted within Munga woodland, as may bamboo and Euphorbia spp..

Grasslands

Interspersed between woodland patches are grasslands, some seasonally flood and hold water into the dry season, some do not.  Common grass genera at Munyamadzi include Setaria, Panicum, Sporobolus, DigitariaAndropogon and Chloris.