Towering giraffes nibble away in silence on the leaves of an acacia tree. The ground vibrates as a herd of buffalo pass. Lions rest under a baobab tree keeping careful watch out for prey. The air is still and heavy in the midday heat. Above it all stretches the endless blue sky.
This is KAZA. We have more than 3,000 different plant species thrive in the savannahs, wetlands, and forests. More than 500 bird species populate the skies. Moreover, with its quarter of a million animals, KAZA is home to 44 percent of Africa’s elephants, according to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).
The preservation zone, which contains famous Victoria Falls, one of the largest waterfalls on Earth. The preservation area includes the Okavango Delta in Botswana, a wetlands that provides refuge and water to crocodiles, lions, leopards, hyenas, rhinoceroses, baboons and more, including the endangered African wild dog.
Take a look at just a few of the majestic species that inhabit the woodlands, wetlands and savannas of KAZA.
KAZA is home to Africa’s largest contiguous elephant population, as well as major populations of a wide range of species such as buffalo, hippopotamus, lion, lechwe, roan, sable,eland, zebra, wildebeest, waterbuck, puku, bushbuck, sitatunga, hunting dog, spotted hyena, and numerous other animal species of the Southern African savannas, woodlands and wetlands. Out of the 197 mammal species listed, none are endemic. Kafue National Park in Zambia contains one of the last remaining viable populations of wild dogs on the continent (Carlson et al., 2004), and white rhinoceros may be found in small numbers in the Okavango Delta area.
Although knowledge of the avifauna of south east Angola is minimal, of the 601 species recorded in KAZA, 524 are known to breed within the TFCA. There are 76 palaearctic migrants and an additional 52 intra-African migrants. Many reside for a number of months in wetlands, pans or floodplains, while others wander at will over grasslands and thornveld. These species know no boundaries, again showing the importance of a transfrontier approach to conservation. Ornithologists have identified 12 Important Bird Areas (IBAs) within the KAZA TFCA using rigorous numerical and distribution criteria. Some of these are rather small (e.g. Lake Ngami and Batoka Gorge, each 100-250 km2), whilst others are very large (e.g. the Okavango swamps, Kafue and Hwange National Parks).
The KAZA TFCA is a meeting place of the reptilian and amphibian fauna from the Kalahari, the Upper Zambezi, and from the broad-leaved woodlands of Central Africa. There are 128 species of reptiles and 50 species of amphibians. The gaps in knowledge are mainly with the distribution and status of many species in Angola and south west Zambia (Timberlake & Childes, 2004).
Aquatic biodiversity is of great significance in the Upper Zambezi River system and its natural resources are vital elements in sustaining the local populace and economy. The mosaic of habitats, particularly in areas such as the Zambezi National Park, result in very high species diversity (Tweddle et al., 2004).
In the AWF project (WHICH), of the almost 300 butterfly species recorded, most are found in Zambia and Zimbabwe; Angola is poorly known. Eighteen species of interest have been identified in the area, including two near-endemic subspecies, (Modest Bar, Cigaritis modestus modestus and Fiery Acraea Acraea acrita ambigua) and one endemic species (Norman’s Copper Erikssonia alaponoxa) known only from miombo woodland near Kataba in SW Zambia. The latter is also considered threatened. There is one endemic killifish (Nothobranchius sp.) found in pans in the East Caprivi, and one other globally threatened species, Phongolo suckermouth Chiloglanis emarginatus, in a tributary of the Gwayi River (Timberlake & Childes, 2004). The Broadbordered Acraea, a form of Acraea anemosa (forma alboradiata) is known only in the Victoria Falls rainforest. The major threats to butterflies are habitat destruction, particularly to riparian and similar well-developed woodlands, either by clearance or by elephant (Timberlake & Childes, 2004).