Title graphic Zambia webpage
Roan antelopes
Sable antelope
Pukus
Southern lechwes
Impala
Bushbuck
Hippos
African elephants
Lions
Common warthog
Vervet monkey
Birds
Nile crocodiles
In September 2014 I travelled to Zambia's Kafue National Park in the hope of seeing more African wild dogs, but unfortunately the 'resident' pack had moved on (as wild animals do) and there had been no sightings of the dogs for quite some time.
However the safari was still productive, and the wildlife in the Kafue was an interesting mix – some 'biggies' are absent (giraffes have never been present, there used to be black rhinos but they have all been poached out, and although plains zebras are there I didn't see any), but there were some interesting antelope species that I hadn't seen before (or at least not close to) including large herds of roan antelope and puku, and a solitary sable antelope. We also saw elephants, lions, buffaloes and even a glimpse of a leopard.
The Kafue is shaped by its rivers and the annual floods, which leave behind lush plains dotted with 'islands' of trees and shrubs where lions drag their kills and take cover from the daytime heat. The watery nature of the park determines the wildlife most commonly seen, and we saw lots of hippos and Nile crocodiles in the rivers, southern (red) lechwes on the plains, pied kingfishers and African fish eagles hunting from the riverbanks, and colonies of white-fronted bee-eaters making their homes there.
Roan antelopes
I had previously seen a pair of roan antelopes in the distance during a trip to Botswana, but in Zambia we were treated to herds of females and their calves which were extremely relaxed around our vehicle. These large antelopes have a stubby 'mane', striking facial markings and slightly droopy ears, and are often accompanied by oxpeckers, all of which makes them very photogenic.
Roan antelopes
Roan antelopes Roan antelope
Roan antelope Roan antelope

Sable antelope
We also spotted a loan sable antelope, although it was skittish and trotted off into the distance. This species is closely related to the roan antelope (
in the same Hippotragus genus) but has much longer, more curved horns, especially in males like this one.

There was once a third species in the
Hippotragus genus - the bluebuck - found only in South Africa, which earned the inauspicious honour of being the first African antelope species to be hunted to extinction by European settlers in around 1800.
Sable antelope

Pukus
Most populations of puku are declining, but the Kafue is one of the species' last strongholds (the main one being in southern Tanzania). Pukus breed throughout the year, so we saw lots of calves of various sizes.
I love the fact that the horns of the male puku in the third photo cast a shadow in the shape of a whale's tail on his back!
Puku mother & baby Pukus
Puku
Southern lechwes
Closely related to the puku, southern lechwes are typically found in large numbers in swampy, floodplain habitats. I had previously seen lechwes in Botswana, but in the Kafue I had huge herds of them grazing near my tent at our second camp.
Southern or red lechwes running
Impala

Impala
Bushbuck

Bushbuck


Hippos
Hippos are very much a feature of the waterworld of the Kafue, and we saw them in the rivers, at the few large pools which remained on the plains, and even out and about in broad daylight seemingly far from water. We startled the hippo in the last photo here - it was resting in a water-filled hollow hidden from our view and was not happy about being disturbed, so it charged us at a brisk trot!
Hippos
Hippos Hippo
Hippo mother & baby Charging hippo

African elephants
We saw quite a few elephants, although not in huge numbers. We were mock-charged by the elephants in the second photo here, who had a small baby in their herd which they obviously wanted to protect.
African elephant mother & calf African elephants charging
African elephant browsing African elephant browsing
African elephant
Lions
The lions were relatively easy to locate thanks to tip-offs from staff from the Zambian Carnivore Programme and other contacts, and once the cats were on a kill they didn't move much for a few days, stubbornly guarding the carcass - the lion in the third photo here had retreated to the shade but was keeping a watchful eye on the vultures gathering in the trees. The lion in the fourth photo had done well and brought down a female buffalo on his own. Having eaten only one front leg and part of the head, he was absolutely stuffed but determined not to lose any of his prize to scavengers, so predator and prey lay back to back like strange bedfellows.
Lion Lion
Lion Lion
Lion with buffalo kill
Common warthog
This warthog stopped for a few seconds to take a good look at us before doing the usual warthog thing - a rapid exit at trot with the tail in radio-receiver mode.
Common warthog Common warthog

Vervet monkey
Vervet monkey
Birds
Pied kingfisher
Pied kingfisher
African fish eagle
African fish eagle
I never cease to be baffled by the common names chosen for birds. Those below are white-fronted bee-eaters. Of all the colours on this beautiful animal, why did someone choose white?!
White-fronted bee-eaters near nests
White-fronted bee-eaters
White-fronted bee-eaters
White-fronted bee-eaters
White-fronted bee-eater with prey
White-fronted bee-eater with prey
White-fronted bee-eater
White-fronted bee-eater
Crowned hornbill
Crowned hornbill
Grey crowned cranes
Grey crowned cranes
Grey crowned crane
Grey crowned crane
Grey crowned cranes in flight
Grey crowned cranes in flight


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Nile crocodiles
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Last updated 11 February 2015