Zambezian flooded grasslands

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Zambezian flooded grasslands
Jabiru africano (Ephippiorhynchus senegalensis), delta del Okavango, Botsuana, 2018-07-31, DD 11.jpg
Saddle-billed stork (Ephippiorhynchus senegalensis) in Botswana's Okavango Delta.
AT0907 map.png
Map showing the Zambezian flooded grasslands
Realm Afrotropic
Biome Flooded grasslands and savannas
Area153,600 km2 (59,300 sq mi)
Countries Angola, Botswana, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Tanzania, and Zambia
Conservation status relatively stable/intact

The Zambezian flooded grasslands is an ecoregion of southern and eastern Africa that is rich in wildlife.

Ecoregion Ecologically and geographically defined area that is smaller than a bioregion

An ecoregion is an ecologically and geographically defined area that is smaller than a bioregion, which in turn is smaller than an ecozone. All three of these are either less or greater than an ecosystem. Ecoregions cover relatively large areas of land or water, and contain characteristic, geographically distinct assemblages of natural communities and species. The biodiversity of flora, fauna and ecosystems that characterise an ecoregion tends to be distinct from that of other ecoregions. In theory, biodiversity or conservation ecoregions are relatively large areas of land or water where the probability of encountering different species and communities at any given point remains relatively constant, within an acceptable range of variation.

Africa The second largest and second most-populous continent, mostly in the Northern and Eastern Hemispheres

Africa is the world's second largest and second most-populous continent. At about 30.3 million km2 including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of Earth's total surface area and 20% of its land area. With 1.2 billion people as of 2016, it accounts for about 16% of the world's human population. The continent is surrounded by the Mediterranean Sea to the north, the Isthmus of Suez and the Red Sea to the northeast, the Indian Ocean to the southeast and the Atlantic Ocean to the west. The continent includes Madagascar and various archipelagos. It contains 54 fully recognised sovereign states (countries), nine territories and two de facto independent states with limited or no recognition. The majority of the continent and its countries are in the Northern Hemisphere, with a substantial portion and number of countries in the Southern Hemisphere.



The Zambezian flooded grasslands can be found on seasonally or permanently flooded lowlands in the basin of the Zambezi and neighboring river basins. These enclaves lie in the broad belt of dry and not very fertile miombo and mopane savannas and woodlands that extend east and west across Africa, in broad band from northern Botswana and Namibia in the west to Tanzania and Mozambique in the east.

Zambezi fourth-longest river in Africa

The Zambezi is the fourth-longest river in Africa, the longest east-flowing river in Africa and the largest flowing into the Indian Ocean from Africa. The area of its basin is 1,390,000 square kilometres (540,000 sq mi), slightly less than half of the Nile's. The 2,574-kilometre-long river (1,599 mi) arises in Zambia and flows through eastern Angola, along the north-eastern border of Namibia and the northern border of Botswana, then along the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe to Mozambique, where it crosses the country to empty into the Indian Ocean.


Miombo is the vernacular word for Brachystegia, a genus of tree comprising many tree species together with Julbernardia species in woodlands. Miombo woodland is classified in the tropical and subtropical grasslands, savannas, and shrublands biome. The biome includes four woodland savanna ecoregions characterized by the predominant presence of miombo species, with a range of climates from humid to semi-arid, and tropical to subtropical or even temperate.

Mopane species of plant

Colophospermum mopane, commonly called mopane, mophane, mopani, balsam tree, butterfly tree, or turpentine tree, is a tree in the legume family (Fabaceae), that grows in hot, dry, low-lying areas, 200 to 1,150 metres in elevation, in the far northern parts of southern Africa. The tree only occurs in Africa and is the only species in genus Colophospermum. Its distinctive butterfly-shaped (bifoliate) leaf and thin seed pod make it easy to identify. In terms of human use it is, together with camel thorn and leadwood, one of the three regionally important firewood trees.

Large enclaves of flooded grassland include:

The Ulanga River, also known as the Kilombero River, is a river that starts in the southwest of Tanzania on the eastern slope of the East African Rift that flows northeast into the Rufiji River then to the Indian Ocean.

Malagarasi River river

The Malagarasi River is a river in western Tanzania, flowing through Kigoma Region, although one of its tributaries comes from southeastern Burundi. It is the second-longest river in Tanzania behind the Rufiji—Great Ruaha, and has the largest watershed of any river flowing into Lake Tanganyika. The Malagarasi-Muyovozi Wetlands are a designated a Ramsar site. Local tribes have nicknamed the Malagarasi as "the river of bad spirits".

The Wembere River is a river of northern Tanzania, in the basin of Lake Eyasi.

The region has a tropical climate with a hot wet summer between November and March.


These patches of wetland contain grassland and swamp vegetation which varies from area to area within this widely spread ecoregion.


Even during the dry season the floodplains sustain a great deal of wildlife including grazing African buffalo, wildebeest, and elephants, zebras, and giraffes, with hippopotamus and crocodiles in the waters. There are many antelopes such as waterbucks, pukus, elands, and lechwe, the Bangwelu Swamp in particular being home to black lechwe (Kobus leche smithermani), tsessebe, and sitatunga while the Kafue Flats have large groups of Kafue lechwe and Burchell's zebra.

African buffalo species of mammal

The African buffalo or Cape buffalo is a large Sub-Saharan African bovine. Syncerus caffer caffer, the Cape buffalo, is the typical subspecies, and the largest one, found in Southern and East Africa. S. c. nanus is the smallest subspecies, common in forest areas of Central and West Africa, while S. c. brachyceros is in West Africa and S. c. aequinoctialis is in the savannas of East Africa. The adult buffalo's horns are its characteristic feature: they have fused bases, forming a continuous bone shield across the top of the head referred to as a "boss". They are widely regarded as among the most dangerous animals on the African continent, and according to some estimates they gore, trample, and kill over 200 people every year.

Wildebeest antelope of the genus Connochaetes

The wildebeest, also called the gnu ( NEW or, is an antelope in the genus Connochaetes. It belongs to the family Bovidae, which includes antelopes, cattle, goats, sheep, and other even-toed horned ungulates. Connochaetes includes two species, both native to Africa: the black wildebeest or white-tailed gnu, and the blue wildebeest or brindled gnu. Fossil records suggest these two species diverged about one million years ago, resulting in a northern and a southern species. The blue wildebeest remained in its original range and changed very little from the ancestral species, while the black wildebeest changed more as adaptation to its open grassland habitat in the south. The most obvious way of telling the two species apart are the differences in their colouring and in the way their horns are oriented.

Elephant Large terrestrial mammals with trunks from Africa and Asia

Elephants, the largest existing land animals, are mammals of the family Elephantidae. Three species are currently recognised: the African bush elephant, the African forest elephant, and the Asian elephant. Elephantidae is the only surviving family of the order Proboscidea; extinct members include the mastodons. The family Elephantidae also contains several now-extinct groups, including the mammoths and straight-tusked elephants. African elephants have larger ears and concave backs, whereas Asian elephants have smaller ears, and convex or level backs. Distinctive features of all elephants include a long trunk, tusks, large ear flaps, massive legs, and tough but sensitive skin. The trunk, also called a proboscis, is used for breathing, bringing food and water to the mouth, and grasping objects. Tusks, which are derived from the incisor teeth, serve both as weapons and as tools for moving objects and digging. The large ear flaps assist in maintaining a constant body temperature as well as in communication. The pillar-like legs carry their great weight.

The large numbers of birds, especially waterbirds, in the floodplains include saddle-billed storks. There are two endemic reptiles; the Merara toad ( Amietophrynus reesi ) in the Kilombero valley, and the Barotse water snake (Crotaphopeltis barotseensis).

Saddle-billed stork saddle-billed stork

The saddle-billed stork, or saddlebill is a large wading bird in the stork family, Ciconiidae. It is a widespread species which is a resident breeder in sub-Saharan Africa from Sudan, Ethiopia and Kenya south to South Africa, and in The Gambia, Senegal, Côte d'Ivoire and Chad in west Africa.

Amietophrynus reesi, the Merara toad, is a species of toad in the family Bufonidae. It is endemic to Tanzania, and is known from the Kihansi–Ulanga River floodplain from elevations of 200–500 m. Its natural habitats are moist savanna, subtropical or tropical seasonally wet or flooded lowland grassland, swamps, intermittent freshwater lakes, and intermittent freshwater marshes. It is threatened by habitat loss.

Threats and preservation

Despite the tsetse fly and the swampy water the floodplains have long been home to rural communities, such as the Lozi people in the Barotse Floodplain and the Tonga in the Kafue Flats, but are mostly unspoilt and large areas are protected. However, wildlife is still vulnerable to poaching and illegal farming or grazing of livestock. Meanwhile as the population in this part of Africa is continually growing demand for water and farmland places the floodplains under constant threat as land is polluted or farmed, grassland set on fire and rivers are dammed or diverted. The Kafue Flats have been drastically changed by the damming of the river and similar projects are planned for the Okavango.

Tsetse fly genus of insects

Tsetse, sometimes spelled tzetze and also known as tik-tik flies, are large biting flies that inhabit much of tropical Africa. Tsetse flies include all the species in the genus Glossina, which are placed in their own family, Glossinidae. The tsetse are obligate parasites that live by feeding on the blood of vertebrate animals. Tsetse have been extensively studied because of their role in transmitting disease. They have a prominent economic impact in sub-Saharan Africa as the biological vectors of trypanosomes, which cause human sleeping sickness and animal trypanosomiasis. Tsetse are multivoltine and long-lived, typically producing about four broods per year, and up to 31 broods over their lifespans.

Lozi people ethnic group

The Lozi people are a language group of more than 46 different ethnic groups primarily of western Zambia, inhabiting the region of Barotseland. Lozi is also a Nationality of the people of Barotseland. It is not a tribe. The Lozi or Barotse people number approximately 3,575,000. Lozi are also found in Zambia, Namibia, Angola, Botswana, Mozambique (50,000), and Zimbabwe (8,000). The Lozi are also known as the Barotse, Malozi, Kololo, Makololo, Barotose, Rotse, Rozi, Rutse, or Tozvi. The Lozi speak Silozi, a central Bantu language. The lives of the Lozi people seem to revolve around the Zambezi river, which is the second longest river in Africa.

Protected areas include the Okavango Delta, the Bangweulu, Moyowosi and Kilombero swamps and the Kafue Flats and in addition Lake Chilwa is a Ramsar birding area. Of these Okavango is the largest and best-known, being mostly within the Moremi Game Reserve, having spectacular wildlife and a well-developed safari industry based in the town of Maun. In Zambia Lochinvar and Blue Lagoon National Parks are protected.

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Luapula River river

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Lechwe species of mammal

The lechwe, red lechwe or southern lechwe, is an antelope found in wetlands of south central Africa.

Kafue River river

The Kafue River is the longest river lying wholly within Zambia at about 1,600 kilometres (990 mi) long. Its water is used for irrigation and for hydroelectric power. It is the largest tributary of the Zambezi, and of Zambia's principal rivers, it is the most central and the most urban. More than 50% of Zambia's population live in the Kafue River Basin and of these around 65% are urban.

Lukulu human settlement

Lukulu is a market town in the Western Province of Zambia, on the Zambezi River, and headquarters of a district of the same name. Access to the town is limited to only a few unsealed roads which do not see much traffic. Fish from the river provide most of the local diet, and some are exported to other parts of Zambia away from the river.

Kafue National Park national park in Zambia

Kafue National Park is the largest national park in Zambia, covering an area of about 22,400 km². It is the second largest park in Africa and is home to over 55 different species of mammals.

Lochinvar National Park national park of Zambia

The Lochinvar National Park lies south west of Lusaka in Zambia, on the south side of the Kafue River.

Bangweulu Wetlands

The Bangweulu Wetlands is a wetland ecosystem adjacent to Lake Bangweulu in north-eastern Zambia. The area has been designated as one of the world's most important wetlands by the Ramsar Convention, and an "Important Bird Area" by BirdLife International. African Parks began managing Bangweulu in partnership with Zambia's Department of National Parks and Wildlife with the establishment of the Bangweulu Wetland Management Board in August 2008.

Water transport and the many navigable inland waterways in Zambia have a long tradition of practical use except in parts of the south. Since draught animals such as oxen were not heavily used, water transport was usually the only alternative to going on foot until the 19th Century. The history and current importance of Zambian waterways, as well as the types of indigenous boats used, provide information on this important aspect of Zambian economy.

The Kafue Flats are a vast area of swamp, open lagoon and seasonally inundated flood-plain on the Kafue River in the Southern, Central and Lusaka provinces of Zambia. They are a shallow flood plain 240 km long and about 50 km wide, flooded to a depth of less than a meter in the rainy season, and drying out to a clayey black soil in the dry season.

Lukanga Swamp Major wetland in Zambia

Lukanga Swamp is a major wetland in the Central Province of Zambia, about 50 km west of Kabwe. Its permanently swampy area consists of a roughly circular area with a diameter of 40 to 50 km covering 1850 km2, plus roughly 250 km2 in the mouths of and along rivers discharging into it such as the Lukanga River from the north-east, plus another 500 km2 either side of the Kafue River to the west and north-west, making 2600 km2 in total. It contains many lagoons such as Lake Chiposhye and Lake Suye but few large channels, and its average depth is only 1.5 m.

Sioma Ngwezi National Park national park of Zambia

Sioma Ngwezi National Park is a 5,000-square-kilometre park in the south west corner of Zambia. It is undeveloped and rarely visited, lacking roads and being off the usual tourist tracks, but this may change in the future.

Wildlife of Zambia

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The biomes and ecoregions in the ecology of Zambia are described, listed and mapped here, following the World Wildlife Fund's Global 200 classification scheme for terrestrial ecoregions, and the WWF freshwater bioregion classification for rivers, lakes and wetlands. Zambia is in the Afrotropic biogeographic realm of the scheme. Three terrestrial biomes are well represented in the country . The distribution of the biomes and ecoregions is governed mainly by the physical environment, especially climate.

Blue Lagoon National Park national park of Zambia

Blue Lagoon National Park is a small wildlife haven in the northern part of the Kafue Flats in Zambia's Central Province. It covers about 500 km² and is very accessible, being about 100 km west of Lusaka.

Barotse Floodplain

The Barotse Floodplain also known as the Bulozi Plain, Lyondo or the Zambezi Floodplain is one of Africa's great wetlands, on the Zambezi River in the Western Province of Zambia. It is a designated Ramsar site, regarded as being of high conservation value.