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BirdWatch Zambia has sustained species research and population monitoring in different Key Biodiversity Areas (KBAs) in the country. Particular focus has been drawn on the globally threatened and endemic species including the Zambian Barbet and vultures in South-Central Zambia. BWZ has partnered with different individuals, farm owners and organizations, in ensuring that species and habitats are conserved by Influencing land use and management practices.

Looking after the Vultures in Zambia

          The Vulture Safe Zones Initiative (VSZ)

Zambia is home to 8 vulture species; 4 species are critically endangered, 2 endangered, 1 is vulnerable and 1 is of least concern according to the IUCN red list of threatened species. 

With the rising number of vulture deaths due to various threats - primary reason being poisoning, both intentional and unintentional poisoning, - the concept of Vulture Safe Zones (VSZs) plays a vital role in the long-term survival of vultures. The idea behind the creation of the Vulture Safe Zones is to reduce vulture deaths resulting from poisoning by creating poison free environments for vultures. In areas where there are existing populations of vultures, concerted efforts are made to propagate this initiative by raising awareness to save their populations. VSZs provide safe feeding, drinking, and roosting sites for vultures with no risk of poisoning and persecution. These areas could be privately owned land, national parks, game management areas, or livestock farms. Read More....

If you have a farm or game ranch with large trees, attracting vultures, a section which doesn’t have heavy human traffic and you are keen to be part of this initiative please contact the office (bwz.vultures@gmail.com) and become a part of people fighting to save Africa’s vultures.

               Vulture Movement studies - Tagging and Monitoring 

Vulture tagging is an important conservation effort that endeavors to implement effective research, education, protection, conservation and recovery operations to prevent further decline of the vulture populations in Zambia and Africa at large. Tagging and tracking of vultures is a vital way of obtaining information on movements, habitat range and distance travelled by vultures. It also helps in understanding the routes these birds take, the areas they forage in, their roosting spots and also their survival rate.

Since August 2017, a combined team from the Department of National Parks and Wildlife, BirdWatch Zambia, Endangered Wildlife Trust  and private farm owners have tagged Vultures and fitted them with wing tags, rings and some with GSM tracking units. The wing tags used are bright green in color bearing visible codes with a combination of a letter and numbers with coding ranging from Z027 to Z030 in the first session. A follow-up effort was undertaken in August 2018, within Chisamba IBA, during which an additional 9 vultures; Z001 to Z009 were tagged and 4 were fitted with tracking units. The team has continued the tagging post the breeding season and in August 2019, an additional 12 Vultures; Z010 to Z021 were tagged, 11 White-backed Vultures and 1 Hooded Vulture(juvenile). 

To date, there are three projects that tag and track vultures in Zambia. The Zambian Vulture Conservation Program (ZVCP), a joint project between the Caring For Conservation Fund, BirdWatch Zambia and the Endangered Wildlife Trust, was started in 2021 and has so far tagged 29 birds in Luambe NP, Liuwa Plain NP, Kasanka NP and Bangweulu Wetlands. North Carolina Zoo (NCZ), in partnership with Panthera, focus on the Kafue system and have tagged 17 birds since 2021. In 2022, a project between BioCarbon Partners (BCP) and BirdWatch Zambia (BWZ) has tagged 3 birds in Munyamadzi Game Reserve in the southern Luangwa Valley.

Re-sighting Data

During capture sessions, the team has been able to spot a few tagged vultures including Z008, Z001, Z013, Z018 and Z015. Other re-sightings have been recorded when the public report sightings. These are included in a database that is continuously being updated. When the public reports sightings, this allows us to track vulture movements and update our current data. The more information we are able to accrue, the better equipped we will be able to understand the status of our vulture populations and improve our monitoring of this critically important species.

How to Report Vulture Sighting

To report the sighting please make note of the location and time of the sighting, tag number and colour, and species, as well as any information on the behaviour of the bird and send the information to bwz.vultures@gmail.com.

Photographs are also welcome and any additional information is welcome. We look forward to more information on movements and re-sighting of these well-travelled birds!!!


We are very grateful to Caring For Conservation for supporting vulture tagging and monitoring since 2021 and Biocarbon Partners for additional support of 5 tags. North Carolina Zoo has also been involved in vulture tagging in the Kafue National Park. Appreciation also goes to Dr Ralph Buij (Wageningen University – Netherlands) and the Maxplanck Institute who donated GSM units and wildlife computers (US) who provided the satellite units used in 2018. Special gratitude also goes to the Raptor Research Foundation – Leslie Brown Foundation, Hawk Conservancy Trust, Endangered Wildlife Trust, Africa Bird Club and the Isdell Family Foundation for the additional support rendered to sustain these activities.

Tackling Vulture Poisoning in the Kavango-Zambezi Trans-Frontier Conservation Area.

Biopama Project

This project endeavors to conserve biodiversity by combating poisoning through; Building multi-sectoral capacity to tackle illegal wildlife poisoning, poaching and conflict in the world’s largest trans-frontier conservation area, the Kavango-Zambezi TFCA (KAZA). The main Project Goal is: Poison related vulture deaths (and consequently other wildlife species deaths) in three African poisoning ‘hotspot’ countries reduced, as a contribution towards the halting and long-term reversal of vulture declines in Africa, and stemming wildlife poisoning across the trans-frontier conservation area.

This project is being implemented together with other BirdLife partners in Southern Africa working in the KAZA landscape, BirdLife Zimbabwe and BirdLife Botswana. Priority area(s) targeted in the KAZA are: Hwange National Park (Zimbabwe), Chobe National Park (Botswana), and Kafue National Park (Zambia) 

The specific objective(s) of the project are: 

1. Enhance the management and governance of priority protected areas by addressing existing limitations (strengthening on-site infrastructure/equipment for patrolling, poaching control, and developing capacity of staff); 

2. Enforce the legal framework required to achieve effective biodiversity conservation

Project achievements so far:-

Wildlife Poisoning Response Training: Under this project, we have trained law enforcement personnel and stakeholders in Wildlife Poisoning Response. Trained personnel were strategically selected from various patrol teams around Kafue National Park. The importance of this training is that it is tailored to equip the officers with knowledge to; (1) early detection of poisoning signs in wildlife, respond appropriately to save affected but alive wildlife, and secure the scene to prevent further poisoning and disturbance of evidence on the crime scene; (2) Collect credible evidence safely and professionally to secure a conviction for perpetrators; and (3) Manage the poison crime scene safely, and decontaminate it to avoid further poisoning.

Establishment of the Vulture Support Group (VSG): BWZ has managed to establish the first ever VSG in Namwala Game Management Area (GMA). The aim of this group is to engage local communities in tackling vulture poisoning. This group will be supported to monitor vultures at regular intervals and report poisoning incidents while creating awareness among fellow community members.

Sites and Habitats

 Habitat conservation and restoration 

Invasive Species Control

An invasive species is an organism that is not indigenous, or native, to a particular area – introduced outside their natural or past distribution. Invasive species have long been known to be a major contributor to global biodiversity loss, ecosystem degradation, and deterioration of ecosystem services around the world.

Invasive species are the second most significant cause of species extinctions worldwide, after habitat loss (IUCN, 2014). In the last 500 years, species like rats, cats and mice have driven more than 70 bird species to extinction. They remain one of the greatest threats to our natural world. The BirdLife Invasive Alien Species programme unites the world’s largest Partnership of national non-governmental nature conservation organizations to tackle the global extinction crisis.

BWZ has been developing and sharing expertise to tackle invasive alien species within Zambia. We’re controlling exotic alien species at sites where they constitute a major conservation problem, and implementing locally-led biosecurity measures to ensure they don’t return. Together we’re calling for more effective national, regional and international policies to address non-native invasive species.

We are involved in;

  • Documenting primary drivers for invasive species.
  • Designing, implementing and sharing techniques to control and eradicate invasive alien species.
  • Expanding invasive species control efforts to multiple sites under threat.
  • WWF Funded Mimosa pigra Control on the Barotse Floodplains

    The proposed project seeks to control the invasive Mimosa pigra, support student research and introduce citizen science as a measure of monitoring habitat and species within the Barotse Floodplain. This will therefore secure the ecological integrity of aquatic habitat and associated bird species of the Barotse Floodplains. The approaches of this project are: (1) the control of the spread of Mimosa pigra on the Barotse floodplains; (2) establish a long term monitoring system for the Upper Zambezi landscape in order to improve conditions for biodiversity and livelihoods.

    Mimosa pigra poses numerous threats on the ecological, and socio-economic activities of the Barotse Floodplains, as has been observed in many areas where it has been introduced. The tall stand of Mimosa decreases native biodiversity and threatens the rich wildlife associated with open habitats. Ecosystem modifications caused by Mimosa pigra have reduced native resources accessible for traditional use, pastoral grazing, and ecotourism ventures presented by the Barotse Floodplains. This is a 1 year 8 months project running from May 2022 to December 2023.

    WWF Funded Salvinia molesta Control on the Lukanga Swamps

    The overall goal of the project is to control invasive species on the Lukanga Swamps, thereby improving conditions for biodiversity and livelihoods. This will be achieved through a mixed approach which will include biological control of the invasive Salvinia molesta using the host specific Cyrtobagous salviniae, awareness raising, introduction of safeguard measures to ensure sustainability, support access to resources as well as improved habitat conditions.

    This is a continuation project designed to upscale the efforts of the control of Salvinia molesta by using lessons learnt to improve and expand the model. The project will also be contributing to delivering interventions proposed in the recently launched management plan for the Lukanga Swamps. This is a 1-year project running from November 2022 to November 2023.

    Restoration work in Chisamba IBA

    BirdWatch Zambia has sustained species population monitoring in different Key Biodiversity Areas (KBAs). Particular focus has been drawn on the Zambian Barbet and the 4 breeding species of vultures in South-Central Zambia. BWZ has partnered with as many individuals, farm owners and organizations, in ensuring the habitats of these birds are conserved by Influencing land management/use practices. As an activity within the Vulture Safe Zones (VSZs) initiative, planting of native trees is undertaken by BWZ to mitigate loss of trees in VSZs. Other forms of habitat degradation are human induced due to uncontrolled cutting down of trees and poor farming techniques, both inside and around the VSZs. BWZ with its partners aims at improving the conditions making them more bird favourable through tree planting.

    Apart from being beneficial to vultures for roosting and nesting, trees are used by many other bird species for feeding and shade. The Zambian Barbets for example, an endemic bird to Zambia which nests/roosts in the fig trees spends time away from their cavities perched in trees and sourcing their food from other areas. Critical to the Zambian Barbet is the large semi-deciduous Sycamore fig tree which is a common savannah tree that grows in high water table areas up to the height of 21m and above.

    As long as the vegetation in this IBA support species such as the vultures and remains suitable for the Zambian Barbet and several other species in the long term, it is cardinal to ‘‘Insure’’ the habitat remains in tact by engaging in tree planting activities of indigenous species.

    Kafue Flats IBA - a breeding stronghold for White-backed Vultures

    The Kafue Flats is a seasonally inundated flood-plain stretching for approximately 240 km east to west along the Kafue River and falling within parts of the Itezhi-Tezhi and Mumbwa Districts in Central Province, Kafue District in Lusaka Province and Monze, Namwala and Mazabuka districts in Southern Province. The flats are a Key Biodiversity Area (KBA) supporting over 450 bird species, some of which are endemic, threatened, endangered and/or migratory species including breeding raptors such as vultures. The complex blend of grasslands and woodland (Savanna) zones are of great importance for the survival and safety of different species of birds, particularly the vultures as they provide a safe roosting (resting or sleeping) and nesting area.

    Vultures, whose preference are sparsely vegetated areas, are seen perched/roosting and soaring over this savannah woodland area in search of food. In the dry season, the large scattered trees of these woodlands host a good number of breeding pairs. Apart from making this place their ‘home’, they also follow the water bodies within the flats where they go to wash.

    Even though vultures roost or soar over a wide variety of habitats and almost anywhere with large concentrations of big game animals, Kafue flats remain one of the strong holds for the roosting and breeding populations. This has been seen from the tracked movements of tagged vultures that have been fitted with GSM transmitters. Tracks indicate that in Zambia, a good number of vultures spend more time feeding on farm blocks in Chisamba IBA - Central Zambia and in different parts of the country, and fly back to roost/nest on the Kafue flats.

    As a vital conservation tool, BWZ keeps up-to-date knowledge about the status of the Kafue Flats and vultures by monitoring populations and nests of vultures biannually amidst habitat changes. Protecting areas where vultures nest will increase the likelihood of survival for these birds, and you will be able to watch many generations thrive in your own backyard

    Chansa Chomba & Eneya M’Simuko published a journal where they discussed in detail the “Nesting patterns of raptors; White-backed Vulture (Gyps africanus) and African fish eagle (Haliaeetus vocifer), in Lochinvar National Park on the Kafue flats, Zambia” follow the link to access the publication:


    Migratory Birds and Flyways 

    Flyways are well-established routes that are used by billions of birds during migration each year. Migration is one of the most important characteristics of the avian world, linking birds between their breeding and wintering grounds. These Flyways encompass the whole life cycle of migratory birds. At some point, these birds need to stop for food and rest on their migrations, relying on a fragile chain of undisturbed coastal and inland stopover sites where food is plentiful. However, one broken link in the chain of critical sites connecting the Arctic and the tropics can impact the viability of shorebird populations. Unfortunately, during migration, birds face numerous threats which impact on the viability of their populations. There are eight identified migratory routes for birds, the East Atlantic, the Mediterranean/Black Sea, the East Asia/East Africa, the Central Asia, the East Asia/Australasia, and three flyways in the Americas and the Neotropics. For more information, visit this link here

    The East Atlantic Flyway

    The East Atlantic Flyway is the migration route used each year by millions of birds migrating between their breeding grounds in the Arctic and their wintering sites in Western Europe and along the areas in western and southern Africa. The EAFI was established to facilitate the monitoring of birds and sites, identify conservation priorities, and increase conservation capacity along the Flyway. Of the six EAFI flagship species, Zambia is a stopover site to five which have been spotted within the organization's current core project areas.


    The BirdLife Africa partnership has committed to work beyond species and sites to address the systemic drivers of the biodiversity and climate change crises, and promote a nature-and carbon-neutral world. The last decade has seen a growing trend in the frequency and prevalence of systemic threats around Key Biodiversity Areas in Zambia. Some of the biggest threats include mining, charcoal production, agriculture and climate change. BirdWatch Zambia recognizes the devastating impact of most of the threats to KBAs in Zambia. In line with the commitment made, BWZ will endeavor to halt or substantially reduce the impact of systemic threats in the landscapes we work.


    We’ve been there

    Birds in Zambia face a wide range of threats, most of which are human-induced. The major threats that birds face include; Habitat loss, pollution, illegal killings, lack of knowledge, Human-wildlife conflict, and invasive species among others. Birdwatch Zambia provides a home for those interested in learning about and protecting Zambia’s bird life.

    We mobilize people to influence biodiversity consideration in public policies and private sector practices, campaign to bring about change and work with progressive companies to promote nature- positive practices. Together we influence local, national and regional governments, work with international agreements, and engage with the private sector to bring about smarter and more sustainable decision-making. Our advocacy lays the groundwork for better environmental and social policies and practices.  On the ground, we work alongside indigenous people, local communities and youth groups to power effective conservation action. Together we strive to engage, educate and mobilize the general public to support and be champions of nature. We push for a just and equitable society where we acknowledge that nature is fundamental to our well-being.

    We aim to make positive change to nature and society by making sure that:

    • More people reached through awareness and engagement
    • No net loss of nature commitments by sectors, commodity chains, and companies
    • More people actively supporting nature conversations.
    • More financial firms mainstreaming nature in their investments, and reporting/risk assessments.

    Site Support Groups (SSGs)

    Site Support Groups (SSGs) are described as ‘groups or individuals’ who in partnership with relevant stakeholders work with Birdlife partner organizations to help promote conservation and sustainable development at IBAs, members are usually volunteers and typically drawn from the local community but may also include local authority representatives, businesspersons or other stakeholders.

    The volunteers despite varied backgrounds, ages, occupation and gender, have similar interests and a good understanding of natural resources and the local context in which they are managed.

    The SSGs provide a mechanism by which limited resources can be utilized efficiently and equitably, SSG volunteers live in or adjacent to IBAs may include the unemployed, students, farmers, teachers and others, all have a passion for conservation, development and responsible citizenship. 

    SSGs provide a link between local communities and national institutions such as NGOs, Government agents and researchers. They play a fundamental role by providing an entry point for building local capacity for effective biodiversity conservation, management, monitoring and sound decision making. They help stimulate sustainable development that addresses local people's needs, while conserving their natural resources. SSGs provide a mechanism for self-confidence and empowerment thus allowing people to take control, manage and benefit from their own natural resources and to plan their own livelihoods.

    Membership for SSGs is generally open to all and the groups are an excellent means of engaging the local community in IBA conservation. 


    Site Support Group (SSG)



    Meembe Site Support and Farmers Group

     Lukanga Swamps IBA


    Chilwa Island Site Support and Farmers Group

     Lukanga Swamps IBA


    Mutolanganga Site Support and Farmers Group

     Mutulanganga IBA


    Imanda Community Forest Management Group

     Imanda Forest IBA


    Maunga VAG Vulture Support Group

    Kafue National Park

    Namwala GMA

    Environmental Education and Awareness

    The role of Environmental Education (EE) in schools is to impart fundamental knowledge about the natural environment, and to build practical skills on how to study it, among students at all levels. Ultimately, the goal of all of our EE programs is to promote positive and lasting action that will enhance and ensure the conservation of Zambia's exceptionally rich avifauna by working in close collaboration with key stakeholders. In addition to being a focal unit for environmental awareness among school and college students, BWZ also engages local communities in a number of practical conservation activities, including studying and promoting solutions to local environmental issues.

    BirdWatch Zambia’s environmental education and awareness work is supported by the Elephant Charge, and the Spring Alive Initiative and focuses on selected sites in Zambia, which includes 42 Key Biodiversity Areas (KBAs) and 9 Vulture Safe Zones (VSZs) where we collaborate closely with community members and other stakeholders with an aim to conserve birds and their habitats at large. Through various platforms such as radio, Television, face-to-face meetings and educational talks in schools, the organization has been able to raise awareness of the need to protect avifauna and their habitats in Zambia. This gives communities an opportunity to understand the risks they face and get involved in response actions. 

    BirdWatch Zambia does not only educate community members about the importance of birds, but it also encourages conservation initiatives that do not harm the environment. Currently, BWZ is directly engaging over 36 schools and surrounding communities in and around the 42 Zambia’s KBAs/IBAs and 9 Vulture Safe Zones (VSZs) in Zambia. The organization conducts environmental education activities in schools, provides the schools with educational materials to facilitate the smooth running of the established nature clubs, and also conducts community talks on bird and habitat conservation. Find out more here

    Link to BWZ page on Elephant Charge page: https://elephantcharge.org/beneficiary/bird-watch-zambia/

    Link to Spring Alive Zambia (BWZ): http://www.springalive.net/en/group/15

    List of schools currently being engaged by BWZ

    1Chartonel Community SchoolChartonel VSZ
    2Farao Community SchoolChirundu
    3Kafululu Primary SchoolChisamba IBA
    4Martin HouseChisamba IBA
    5Nkongolo Primary SchoolChisamba IBA
    6Chisamba Combined SchoolChisamba IBA
    7Chisamba Girl's Boarding SchoolChisamba IBA
    8Shiloh Community SchoolChisamba IBA
    9Mwayasunka Basic SchoolChisamba IBA
    10Mwayasunka Secondary SchoolChisamba IBA
    11Steven Pende Basic SchoolChisamba IBA
    12Chisamba Ranch Primary SchoolChisamba IBA
    13Chisamba Ranch Secondary SchoolChisamba IBA
    14Kafululu Day Secondary SchoolChisamba IBA
    15Mupamapamo Primary SchoolChisamba IBA
    16Mupamapamo Secondary SchoolChisamba IBA
    17Hachinka Primary SchoolItezhi-Thezhi
    18Nanzhila Primary SchoolItezhi-Thezhi
    19Katuba Primary SchoolKabwe VSZ
    20Nchembwe Primary SchoolKabwe VSZ
    21Malokota SchoolKabwe VSZ
    22Shikozwe Secondary SchoolKafue
    23Amos Youth Centre Kafue
    24St. Theresa SchoolKasisi
    25Meembe Combined SchoolLukanga IBA
    26Chilwa Basic SchoolLukanga IBA
    27Pinewood Preparatory SchoolLusaka
    28Chaisa Basic SchoolLusaka
    29Crested Crane AcademyLusaka
    30Woodford SchoolLusaka
    31Rhodes Park SchoolLusaka
    32American International SchoolLusaka
    33Lumuno SchoolLusaka
    34Son-shine School Lusaka
    35Safe World Trust SchoolLusaka
    36Garden Community Primary SchoolLusaka
    37Garden Community Secondary SchoolLusaka
    38Mutumbi Primary SchoolMazabuka
    39Nanga Secondary SchoolMazabuka
    40Makoye Boarding Secondary SchoolMazabuka
    41Musikili Primary SchoolMazabuka
    42Masangu Basic SchoolMonze
    43Gonhwe Primary SchoolMonze
    44Hakunkula Primary SchoolMonze
    45Matuwa Basic SchoolSiavonga
    46Bakasa Basic SchoolSiavonga

    BirdWatch Zambia Conservation Hut - GRI Wildlife Discovery Center, Lusaka National Park

    In 2022, Game Rangers International (GRI) opened a unique and immersive Wildlife Discovery Centre in Lusaka National Park. The centre not only provides free conservation education to children but is also the new home of the renowned Elephant Nursery.  Fully accessible to all, the Wildlife Discovery Centre welcomes local and international visitors each year to immerse themselves in interactive displays and exhibits that will highlight conservation issues and the efforts to resolve them.

    There are three conservation/education huts at the Discovery Centre, and BirdWatch Zambia (BWZ) is sharing a hut with the International Crane Foundation Zambia (ICF). Through the hut, BWZ will showcase different programs currently being run by the organisation as well as raise awareness of bird and habitat conservation in Zambia. This is with an aim to make a significant long-term contribution to the protection of wildlife and wild spaces by showcasing Zambia’s bird species, increasing environmental education and awareness, as well as inspiring greater conservation stewardship to both local and international visitors to the park/Wildlife Discovery Centre.

    Both BWZ members and non-members are encouraged to visit the hut and learn about the amazing work BWZ is doing for conservation in Zambia, especially with regard to bird and environmental conservation. There is also room for BWZ members to play a role in this! If you would like to volunteer to do bird-specific talks at the hut on selected days you can contact BWZ on +260211239420, or you can come through to our office, we are at 25 Joseph Mwilwa Road in Rhodes Park Lusaka Zambia. You can also support us by making donations to support the running of the hut either financially or by helping through other resources. Find out more here

    Get in touch with us!

    Birdwatch Zambia

    Address : Plot 42 Roan Road, Flat 7 Kabulonga. 

    Phone: 0211 239 420

    Email:  bwz.office@gmail.com