This is where you’ll find one of the most pristine, untouched and wildest landscapes in Africa – the continent’s fourth-largest river, the Zambezi, is a spectacular feature, of course, with characterful old ox-bow lakes, sandbanks and channels along its length. Featuring dramatic riverine flood plains that stretch for miles, deciduous miombo woodlands, (tall leadwoods, winterthorns, ebonies, acacias and fig trees) and mineral-rich grasslands, the Zambezi Valley attracts a prolific and diverse wildlife population.
Those who have visited the valley know its incredible beauty. They also know that part of the magic of the place, especially in areas such as Mana Pools National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage-listed site on the valley floor, is down to the magnificent elephant populations found here.
In the Middle Zambezi alone, there are many complex landscapes, facing a variety of different challenges, poaching being one of them. The decline in the elephant population due to poaching and other factors is alarming. In the last few years, the numbers have dropped to 3,500 from 14,000 in 2001, while in the Lower Zambezi elephants have declined from a healthy population of 19,000 in 2001 to approximately 11,500 today.
UNESCO and the Zambezi Valley
The Zambezi Valley, (inclusive of Mana Pools National Park (219,600 ha) and the Sapi and Chewore safari areas) is a vast area and is officially recognised by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site for its unique biodiversity and rich environmental and wildlife legacies.
The area stretching from Matusadona National Park to Chewore was, in 2010, added to UNESCO’s World Network of Biosphere Reserves.