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Chaona Phiri

    Throughout its entire range, only 2 protected areas are known to have suitable habitat for the Zambian Barbet, viz. Kafue Flats and Kafue National Park. Since May of 2014, BWZ has under the Pamela Isdell sponsored Zambian Barbet Project. We have been conducting a thorough search for the Zambian Barbets in Lochinvar, Blue Lagoon and Kafue National Parks.
Due to its large size, the Kafue National Park was divided into 3 portions so that searching could be effective. Going through Kasempa, we searched for Zambian Barbets from KNP’s Kabanga Gate all the way to Lufupa. At Moshi fishing camp, a group of fishermen, when shown a picture of the Zambian Barbet claimed it resides in the big fig tree at the camp. So we sat at the camp and waited for an optimal time to search for the Barbets, we played the call and got no response at 15 minute intervals for almost one hour. We then proceeded to Treetops and Musanza, where we found a lot of Black-collared Barbets, occupying about 6 fig trees between Treetops and Musanza. Three hours later we rushed back to Moshi as the fishermen phoned saying the Barbets had come to the fig tree.

On arrival, we searched the tree and found what a very large ‘Zambian Barbet’ was, seemingly.  Unfortunately, these ‘Zambian Barbets’ had the red colouring on their fore heads not eyes and had a sort of Rufous colouring on their bellies, they were in fact, Black-backed barbets. From Moshi, Chivemba and Lufupa were the next survey points of suitable habitat, nothing much was recorded although one of the guides at Lufupa phoned the following day, saying the Zambian Barbets came after we left, even although we spent nearly 2 hours hoping they would respond to the call. Our next point was Lunga cabins which we unfortunately were unable to visit as the vehicle developed a fault in the field.

KNP south through Kalomo and Dundumwezi was the next portion of the park surveyed. We entered the park with a lot of disappointment over the large areas of fig trees cleared in Kalomo but with some hope of finding Barbets at Kalenji were ZAWA scouts were sure they had seen them. On arrival at Kalenji, we found a lot of Black-backed Barbets, which we figured were the supposed ‘Zambian Barbets’.
We entered the central part of KNP through Itezhi tezhi, we found about 14 Barbets in Iyanda village just at the boundary of Nkala GMA. Into the park past Ngoma and very close to the Musa river bridge, in the ‘valley of the infamous’ buffalo and found a lot of Black-collared Barbets. On the other side, very close to the Hook Bridge, we found 7 Zambian Barbets, which seemed to be nesting in one of the fig trees along the Mongu (Mukambi Junction) but we could not go into the dry grassland as a number of lionesses had been seen there earlier in the day.
On the Kafue flats, Zambian Barbets were found in Banakaila GMA, about 500m from the park boundary. These are nesting in a fig tree right at a cattle deep tank. In Blue Lagoon, a lot of fig trees were searched along the route to Naleza (ZAWA HQ) and Nakeenda lodge but no Zambian Barbets were found. All in all, the office is very happy to find our endemic species within some protected areas. All that is left is coming up with a plan on how the species’ populations can be conserved.

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Last updated: 16 Dec. 2014
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