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Location Zambia, Western
Central coordinates 23o 2.00' East  15o 17.00' South
IBA criteria A1, A4i
Area 730,000 ha
Altitude 1,000 - 1,060m
Year of IBA assessment 2001

Zambian Ornithological Society (Partner Designate)

Site description The West Zambezi Game Management Area is situated to the west of the main river channel of the immense Zambezi flood-plain. Following good rains, much of the area becomes inundated between about February and June. At this time the area near Mongu hosts the traditional Kuomboka ceremony of the Losi people, when the king (Litunga) is transported, in an ornate boat, to his palace on higher ground. During the dry season, people move into temporary villages and cultivate large areas of the flood-plain. Much of the area is poorly known and more work is required to define the exact limits of an IBA.

Key Biodiversity See Box for key species. Although more data are required, the area is undoubtedly important for waterbirds, and species such as Phalacrocorax africanus, Anastomus lamelligerus, Charadrius asiaticus and Chlidonias hybridus are known to exceed their 1% thresholds. Among species of global conservation concern, Circus macrourus and Gallinago media are non-breeding visitors, as is Falco naumanni (also a passage migrant), and Grus carunculatus is a common resident or visitor, while Egretta vinaceigula has been noted occasionally. Seven species occur that are restricted to the Zambezian biome (see Table 3).

Non-bird biodiversity: An endemic species of Hemisus frog is known from the site. The flora and fauna of the area are poorly known, but very few large mammals remain.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Spur-winged Goose Plectropterus gambensis winter  3,750 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
African Openbill Anastomus lamelligerus winter  1,000 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
African Spoonbill Platalea alba winter  150 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis winter  10,000 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Slaty Egret Egretta vinaceigula winter  present  A1  Vulnerable 
Long-tailed Cormorant Microcarbo africanus winter  5,000 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Lesser Kestrel Falco naumanni winter  present  A1  Least Concern 
Pallid Harrier Circus macrourus winter  present  A1  Near Threatened 
Wattled Crane Bugeranus carunculatus winter  145 individuals  A1, A4i  Vulnerable 
Kittlitz's Plover Charadrius pecuarius winter  1,000 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Caspian Plover Charadrius asiaticus winter  200 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Great Snipe Gallinago media winter  300 individuals  A1, A4i  Near Threatened 
African Snipe Gallinago nigripennis winter  500 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Ruff Calidris pugnax winter  20,000 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Grey-headed Gull Larus cirrocephalus winter  1,000 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Whiskered Tern Chlidonias hybrida winter  150 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
White-winged Tern Chlidonias leucopterus winter  2,000 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
African Skimmer Rynchops flavirostris winter  100 individuals  A1, A4i  Near Threatened 

IBA Monitoring

2005 medium unfavourable low
Good - based on reliable and complete / representative data

Agricultural expansion and intensification livestock farming and ranching (includes forest grazing) - small-holder grazing, ranching or farming past (and unlikely to return) and no longer limiting some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration low
Over-exploitation, persecution and control of species direct mortality of trigger species - hunting and trapping likely in short term (within 4 years) some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium

Grassland   0 0 good (> 90%) good (> 90%) favourable
Shrubland   0 0 moderate (70-90%) moderate (70-90%) unfavourable

Some of site covered (10-49%)  Unknown  Some limited conservation initiatives are in place  low 

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
West Zambezi Game Management Area 3,807,000 protected area overlaps with site 240,000  


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Shrubland   46%
Grassland   40%
Forest   12%

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
agriculture -
hunting -

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2014) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Barotse Floodplains. Downloaded from on 27/11/2014

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