Kasanka National Park

Kasanka National Park is a conservation area of 390 sq kilometers (150 sq mi) in Serenje District, Central Province, Zambia, as one of the smallest national parks in Africa and operated by privately-funded Kasanka Trust Ltd since 1986 which is famous for the spectacular migration of fruit bats Africa (Eidolon helvum).

Kasanka National Park has an average height of 1,160 meters (3,810 feet) and 1,290 meters (4,230 feet), a number of permanent shallow lakes including Wasa, five permanent rivers including Luwombwa River. A total of 114 mammal species recorded in the park include Elephants, Hippopotamus and Sitatunga.

Xvlor Kasanka National Park is spectacular migration of Eidolon helvum bat

Xvlor.com Kasanka National Park is spectacular migration of Eidolon helvum bat

A number of species have been reintroduced in the park by the Kasanka Trust and most successful are zebra and buffalo. Nearly 10 million E. helvids migrate to swamp forests of Mushitu fir in parks during October to December as the world's largest mammal migration. More than 471 bird species have been identified.

Most parks have flat topography with some important features. Nine permanent lakes and lagoons in the system of rivers Luwombwa, Mulembo, Kasanka, Mulaushi, Musola where all flows into the Luapula River as the only drainage channel for the Bangweulu and Congo River basins.

Ecosystems

The Brachystegia Forest or Miombo Woodland covers about 70% of Kasanka's surface area, the rest is grassy dambos. Rich tree species and in many places form a semi-enclosed canopy but also support well-developed herb strata. Decades of early burning in the park have produced a more natural Miombo with the presence of young trees and shrub species.

Three types of forests in Kasanka are Mushitu or swamp forests, river forests and small patches of Mateshe. The Mushitu is characterized by large red mahogany, waterberries and quinine. E. helvum bats gathered every October to December into a herd of the largest fruit bats on Earth.

Bat

Straw-colored fruit bat (E. helvum) begins arriving from mid-October to mid-November estimated at up to 10 million as the highest density of mammalian biomass and the largest migration of mammals on earth. Arrival coincides with the first rain and the maturation of many local fruits, berry and waterberries that estimated 330,000 tonnes of fruit consumed by bats for three months.

High concentrations of bats attract predators and carrioners including martial eagles, pythons, fish eagles, lesser-spotted, African hawk-eagles, kites, vultures, hobby falcons, leopards, water monitors and crocodiles.

Mammal

At least 114 species of mammals include puku (Kobus vardonii), common duiker (Tricelaphus sylvaticus), Phacochoerus, vervet monkey (Chlorocebus pygerythrus), southern reedbuck (Redunca arundinum), Cape buffalo (Syncerus caffer).

Sable antelope (Hippotragus niger), Lichtenstein's hartebeest (Alcelaphus buselaphus lichtensteinii), roan antelope (Hippotragus equinus), Sharpe's (Raphicerus sharpei), leopard (Panthera pardus), side-striped jackal (Canis adustus), mongoose marsh (Atilax paludinosus) white-tailed mongoose (Ichneumia albicauda), African civet (Civettictis civetta).

Cape genet (Genetta tigrina), slender mongoose (Galerella sanguinea), banded mongoose (Mungos mungo), common dwarf mongoose (Helogale parvula), caracal (Caracal caracal), serval (Leptailurus serval), honey badger (Mellivora capensis), Meller's mongoose (Rhynchogale melleri) and Otter (Lutra).

Bird

More than 330 species of birds include blue-mantled crested flycatcher (Trochocercus cyanomelas), brown-headed apalis (Apalis alticola), black-backed barbets (Lybius minor), gray waxbills (Estrilda perreini), olive thrush (Turdus olivaceus) backed weaver (Ploceus bicolor), red-throated twinspot (Hypargos niveoguttatus).

Green-backed twinspot, red-backed mannikin (Lonchura nigriceps), green-headed sunbird (Cyanomitra verticalis), yellow-rumped tinkerbird (Pogoniulus bilineatus), scaly-throated honeyguide (Indicator variegatus), pallid honeyguide (Indicator hymn), purple-throated cuckooshrike (Campephaga quiscalina), black-throated wattle-eye (Platysteira peltata).

Yellow-throated leaflove (Atimastillas flavicollis), gray-olive greenbul (Phyllastrephus cerviniventris), yellow-bellied greenbul (Chlorocichla flaviventris), Cabanis's greenbul (Phyllastrephus cabanisi), green-capped eremomela (Eremomela scotops) racket-tailed roller (Coracias spatulatus), rufous-bellied tit (Melaniparus rufiventris).

Gray penduline tit (Anthus nyoliae), Bushveld pipit (Anthus caffer), African spotted creeper (Salexnis salvadori), white-tailed blue flycatcher (Elminia albicauda), Böhm's flycatcher (Muscicapa boehmi), yellow-bellied hyliota (Hyliota flavigaster), red-capped crombec (Sylvietta ruficapilla), Cabanis's bunting (Emberiza cabanisi).

Black-eared seedeater (Crithagra mennelli), Miombo scrub robin (Cercotrichas barbata), Miombo rock thrush (Monticola angolensis), thick-billed cuckoo, Anchieta's sunbird (Anthreptes anchietae), Anchieta's barbet (Stactolaema anchietae) and Whyte's barbet (Stactolaema whytii).

Reptiles and amphibians

Reptiles and amphibians include Nile monitors (Varanus niloticus), African rock python (Python sebae), forest cobra (Naja melanoleuca), Olive marsh snake (Natriciteres olivacea), three gecko species, five skink species and agama.

www.xvlor.com Kasanka National Park is spectacular migration of Eidolon helvum bat

Xvlor Kasanka National Park is spectacular migration of Eidolon helvum bat

Location: Serenje District, Central Province, Zambia.

Routes and public transport: Flights to Mfuwe Airport in Mfuwe City, then drive to Kasanka National Park. Alternate flights Kenneth Kaunda International Airport in Lusaka City, then drive to Kasanka National Park for for 520 kilometers (323 mi) in 5 hours.

Official site: http://kasankanationalpark.com

Contact: Kasanka Trust Information http://www.kasanka.com

Advice: Kasanka is open all year. Bat migration by mid-October and peak in mid-November. Birding is very good in the rainy season from November to March when migrants arrive from the north. The best game in dry months from May to October. Accommodation includes Luwombwa Lodge, Wasa Lodge and Shoebill camp.

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