Habitat Management- Chisamba IBA

BWZ has sustained species population monitoring in different Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBAs) in South-Central Zambia, particular focus has been drawn on the Zambian Barbet and the 4 breeding species of vultures. BWZ partners with as many partners; 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 https://www.birdwatchzambia.org/vulture-safe-zones-2/ , tree planting of native species is undertaken by BWZ to mitigate loss of trees in VSZs as Vulture perch and defecate on them. The Red Mahogany, locally known as ‘mululu’ is a fast-growing tree which quickly brings back cover to a degraded area is an example of native trees BWZ provides to farmers under the VSZ initiative.

In these VSZs, vultures benefit from large trees that offer; a complete habitat – shelter and nesting areas. Large groups of vultures weighing on average about 5kgs, roost and occupy the large trees. As a result of this, the trees tend to lose their leaves and branches and die off eventually. This is because the fecal matter of vultures is highly acidic. Apart from being used by vultures, the mululu is used by different bird species for feeding, shade and roosting. The Zambian Barbets for example, an endemic bird to Zambia which nests/roosts in the Fig trees spends time away from their cavities perched and sourcing their food from different trees including the ‘mululu’.

Other trees that we consider planting for the same purpose within south-central Zambia are; Natal Mahogany(‘musikili’), Fig trees (‘mukuyu’) and the White Acacia(‘musangu’). As long as the vegetation on these farms support species’ population of iconic birds such as the vultures and remains suitable for endemic birds such as the Zambian Barbet and several other species in the long term, it is cardinal to ‘‘Insure’’ this vegetation by engaging in tree planting activities of appropriate species.