Wildlife and bird monitoring
Activity #1: Monitor sightings on the game drives & walks
This is the traditional game drive and guided walk with a difference! We encourage our guests to record sightings of large mammals during their drives and the different bird species on the walks. These records form the backbone of our data to confirm the populations are continuing to recover. Sightings can be recorded manually with pen, paper and map (we supply this) or virtually through our game monitoring app.
Guests get to participate in ZCP‘s large carnivore monitoring project by observing Luambe’s lion prides and wild dog packs. Guests are encouraged to take facial close-ups of lions for the data base of ZCP. Each individual lion is identifiable from the unique lion whisker spots found on each side of the face. Other characteristics such as ear tears, facial shapes and scars are also useful. The African wild dogs’ coat patterns are similarly unique to each individual and can be used to identify individuals. Side view pictures of wild dogs are most welcome for our data base on Luambe’s wild dog pack.
Activity #2: Sunsets and Hippo communication
Luambe Camp is situated on the banks of the Luangwa river. In front of camp, the Luangwa forms a large pool which is home to hundreds of hippo whose numbers increase throughout the dry season. Luambe’s unique underwater monitoring equipment in combination with our floating hippo deck gives our guests the chance to listen through earphones to the amazing underwater language of hippos!
This is one of the activities which is best enjoyed in the afternoon and ends at a great sundowner spot! At night you should expect to fall asleep to the sound of hippos as they leave the river to graze.
Activity #3: Observing the leopards of Luambe
Leopard research has a long tradition in Luambe and the smallest home-range of any leopard has been reported from Luambe NP (Ray 2011, Ray-Brambach et al. 2018). Leopards do regularly come to drink at the camp´s waterhole. The Luambe Leopard program uses game drive sightings and camera trap images to build up the ‘Luambe leopard family tree’ by identifying various individuals. Help our team by photographing leopard faces or installing and setting up camera traps throughout the park to build our leopard family tree
Activity #4: Gentle giants on the increase – Luambe’s giraffes
Giraffes are increasingly becoming recognized as a species of conservation concern. After many years of absence, the Luangwa-endemic Thornicroft’s giraffe re-appeared in Luambe in 2014 when two odd bulls were found close to camp. In the years to follow, more giraffe turned up and a small population established and began to breed. In 2020 , a pair of twins arrived! Apart from South Luangwa National Park, Luambe is the only protected area with a reproducing population of Thornicroft’s giraffe. Similar to leopards, the giraffe coat pattern shows a high degree of individual variation and can be used as a cost‐effective, non‐invasive way to study populations. Help our team with your pictures of giraffes to increase our giraffe data base.
Activity #5: Bird tagging and identification
Luambe is home to four vulture species which are all decreasing dramatically! Join the Luambe Conservation Project researchers with their vital work in understanding and protecting the Luangwa Valley’s vulture and crested crane populations. When possible, guests can join the LCP team and attend tagging exercises and other scientific research activities.
For the avid birdwatcher, abundant species of bird are regularly seen in Luambe: these include raptors such as the martial eagle, tawny eagle and African fish eagles. Our guided birding walks of the area around Luambe Camp can be spectacular with specials such as African skimmer, racket-tailed roller, Pel’s fishing owl, white-backed night-heron and Lilian’s lovebirds. Seasonal movements of the before mentioned species may mean these birds are not around when you visit.
Activity #6: Recording Luambe bat data and species
Although representing more than 20% of all mammal species, bats are rarely noticed on traditional safaris. More than 60 species of bats and about 10 species of fruit bats are known to occur in Zambia. After dinner, we bring out some pretty specialist technology which allows us to walk around camp to listen and record the various bat sounds around Luambe which we use to expand a specialist Luambe bat list.
Activity #7: Understand the community dynamics
Luambe has various communities that border the park. We work closely with Chitungulu and we welcome guests to join us in understanding the challenges these communities face when living next to wildlife areas. Guests are welcomed to see elephant prove maize storage, assist with bee hive fencing and chilli planting which reduce human – wildlife conflict. Additionally, we support a lot of work in the education sector focusing on stressing the importance of protecting wildlife to the next generation. We encourage locals to produce basketry and wood carvings through the Chitungulu Foundation.
Activity #8: Carmine conservation and coffee
For only a few weeks a year, between September and end of October Luambe is splashed with colour by Luangwa’s favourite visitors – the carmine bee eaters. Large flocks of these migratory birds dig their burrows and lay their eggs in the vertical Luangwa riverbanks, offering guests the rare opportunity to savour a cup of ‘Carmine Coffee’ during their breeding season.
But believe it or not, these birds are often the target of feather poachers. Regular monitoring of Luambe’s breeding colonies, keeping accurate nest and population counts is vital to know that they are being protected. Luambe Conservation Project records nest sites and numbers annually to ensure the populations are thriving
Activity #9: See law-enforcement at work
Proper and regular law enforcement is the decisive factor to ensure long-term survival of Luambe National Park. We are very grateful that in 2019, the Department of National Parks and Wildlife of Zambia increased the number of scouts in Luambe National Park. In addition, the scout training programme of the International Fund for Animal Welfare has taken place in and around Luambe National Park in 2019 and 2020. Ever since then, a number of poachers and illegal miners have been apprehended. Join our scouts on an educational anti-snaring patrol where they teach you to look for the tell-tale signs of incursions, tracks and poachers.