What to hunt in Zambia
Types of Safari
Health and Travel
Zambia Hunting Regions
Zambia is drained by two major river basins: the Zambezi basin in the south covering about three-quarters of the country; and the Congo basin in the north covering about one-quarter of the country. The Zambezi basin forms the core support system or backbone of Zambia's key protected areas system which is where 99 percent of all hunting takes place.
Two of the Zambezi's longest and largest tributaries, the Kafue and the Luangwa, flow mainly in Zambia and it is around these two systems which the core National Parks and their associated hunting zones are concentrated. At a glance when hunting in Zambia your will more often than not either hunt GMA's around the Kafue National park in the west or around the Luangwa National park in the north east.
There are other GMA's where successful hunting does take place yet these tend to be single areas where game is scarce or highly specialized areas harboring unique antelope.
THE LUANGWA VALLEY
At first glance as your small charter aircraft glides down through the haze, the valley floor seems dry and unforgiving, a landscape devoid of life, a dull selection of browns and grays like the waters of the Luangwa river itself. Occasionally an elephant appears against the shimmering white sandbanks and hippos line the waters edge sunning themselves amidst the crocodiles.
Then as you get closer to the ground and see the tiny strip ahead of you suddenly out of the surrounding bush kudu's, impalas, pukus, warthogs flee in blind panic across the runway ahead while glimmering oxbow lakes teem with varied life, barking baboons, solitary hippos, elephants at play, buffalo cooling off.
Luangwa lies at the southern end of Africa's great rift system with the sluggish Luangwa river its lifeblood eventually spilling into the waters of the mighty Zambezi. From it's humble almost English countryside beginnings in the Muchinga escarpment the Luangwa forms one of Africa's great valleys supporting the greatest body of wildlife in the country. Essentially the Valley with the north and south Luangwa National parks making up great swathes of protected land are Zambia's best kept wilderness repository.
The Valley is a result of down-faulting dating back to pre-dinosaur days. It is intersected by the 247km Luangwa River, a shallow wide muddy river, that teems with hippo and crocodile. Its banks are lined by riverine woodland and ox-bow lakes are a prominent feature. Inland, mopane woodland covers the valley floor interspersed by deciduous thickets. At the escarpment edges the bush becomes thicker again, varying from thorn thickets to open miombo woodland. It is this varying habitat that plays host to the valley's numerous species from elephant down to grysbok.
The Luangwa National Park is divided into the North and South Luangwa and GMA's are concentrated between and around these two parks.
Luangwa is known for the quality buffalo shot there each season, particularly in the later months of September - November in the northern GMA's.
Lion and leopard hunting has been varied with the better concessions yielding decent, full maned bush lion and larger male leopard. However, it is thought that the quality is on the decline due to hunting pressure and one needs a good deal of time to be sure of a good trophy. There are many lion and leopard throughout the valley and baits are regularly "hit". Often the most difficult part of a hunt is exercising patience waiting for the bigger males to show up.
The Cookson's wildebeest, a subspecies of the more common blue wildebeest, is found only here as well as the puku which are mostly hunted in Zambia. Hippo, southern greater kudu, Chobe bushbuck, southern roan, Livingstone eland, southern impala, warthog, Sharpe's Grysbok, Lichtenstein's hartebeest, common waterbuck, spotted hyena, chacma baboon and common reedbuck are all resident in the valley and huntable.
The hunting in the Kafue GMA's. is possibly most representative as true Zambian hunting as much of the country's habitat is Miombo woodland a vegetation type mostly absent from other sub-Saharan countries
The Kafue National Park is Zambia's largest and one of Africa's biggest wilderness areas. Central to the park and the hunting concessions, is the Kafue River and its tributaries, a large clear nutrient-rich body of water.
The park used to teem with large elephant and many hunters swore they regularly saw 100 pounders. Sadly, the park was one of the hardest hit during the elephant poaching decade and today it faces assault by the bush meat trade as it is intersected by one of the country's main roads west.
Most of the region is covered in miombo forest, an open well-grassed woodland which offers ideal hunting. At the northern end of the park are the Busanga Plains and at the southern end, the Kafue Flats. Both areas are floodplain's and are home to thousands of Kafue lechwe.
The Kafue hunting areas are known as the best sable concessions in Africa and today it's still possible to hunt top 10 trophies here. Buffalo are not plentiful except on the Busanga plains where some massive bulls are often taken.
Lion and leopard hunting is excellent in some areas although overshooting of quotas has had it's effect. Full maned bush lion are shot regularly with some concessions having a very high lion populations. GMA's. holding or bordering rivers have good leopard populations with the cats normally coming to bait early in the afternoon.
Other species include Defassa waterbuck, Lichtenstein's hartebeest, Livingstone eland, Chobe bushbuck, impala, puku, Kafue lechwe, common oribi, bush duiker, common reedbuck, southern roan, blue wildebeest and sitatunga. The yellow-backed duiker is found in the northern Kafue areas which is the southern-most end of its distribution.
Excellent for: Lion, Leopard, Buffalo, Hippo, Crocodile, Roan, Livingstones Eland, Cooksons Wildebeest plus other antelope.
NO - Sable, Sitatunga, Lechwe's, Defassa Waterbuck or Oribi.
Excellent for: Black maned Lion, big Leopard, best Sable in Africa, Oribi, Puku, Lichtenstein's Hartebeest, Defassa Waterbuck plus others
Also has Sitatunga and red Lechwe
The Wetland Species
Zambia offers some striking wetland or swamp species which include the much sought after Sitatunga as well as two different lechwe, the Kafue and the Black.
The Bangweulu Swamp is the traditional hunting ground for Sitatunga and also where the Black Lechwe occurs exclusively. Although Sitatunga are found in other regions as well, it makes sense to hunt them in the Bangweulu as you can also take the Black Lechwe on the same hunt.
These are usually specialized 5-7 day trips into the swamp which lies in northern Zambia and is one of the best hunting experiences in the country. You can also take Tsessebe, Oribi and common Reedbuck on this hunt.
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The Kafue Lechwe, endemic to Zambia, is hunted on the vast open Kafue flats which lie about 100 miles distant from the capital city, Lusaka. These are usually one or two day hunts out of the city for Lechwe only and are reasonably easy to tack onto the front or end of another safari.