Zambia: Where the Wild Things Are—Really!
I’m staying at Bushcamp Company’s Mfuwe Lodge, near the east gate of Zambia’s South Luangwa Park, a haven for 400 bird species and 60 animal species. The park is famous for lions.
Manda Chisanga, Bushcamp’s senior resident guide, states that in the last 50 years, the lion population has dwindled from 450,000 to 20,000 worldwide due to interaction with homesteaders, loss of natural habitat and over-hunting.
South Luangwa Park is renowned for lions. Chisanga says, “Conservation is not all that bad here. But it needs restrictions: Hunters take males in their prime because they’re more valuable. The old guys can’t mate, so there’s a decline. There still are lots of lions in this game park.”
I board our game vehicle, hoping to see lions. We plow through the bush and grasslands while Chisanga and our tracker continually point out lilac-breasted roller birds, Thornicroft’s giraffes, herds of zebra, and several types of antelopes…even an elephant family with baby walking under its mother’s belly.
At sundown, we admire ancient baobabs and towering mahoganies, but no lions.
We go on to Livingstone, explore Victoria Falls, and pay a visit to “Walking with Lions.” We don’t walk with lions, but ride on elephants, pet ocelot cubs and learn there’s a plan to import lion cubs from South Africa, and release them into the game parks.
We ended our adventure in Namibia, where we learn that the lion population has increased from around 25 animals in 1995 to 120 today. #