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When it all comes together for wildlife

When it all comes together for wildlife

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When it all comes together for wildlife

Zambia’s South Luangwa National Park marks the end of the Great Rift Valley, is a world-renowned wildlife haven and home to a dazzling array of wildlife. Concentrations of game along the wide, meandering Luangwa River, with its ox-bow lakes and its lagoons plays host to huge concentrations of game, are amongst the densest in Africa. The river, teeming with crocodiles and hippos, provides a lifeline for a huge diversity of habitats and wildlife, supporting more than 60 species of mammals and over 400 species of bird.

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Patrick Bentley - Kabamba Crossing: As billowing clouds bring the promise of rain, a herd of elephants cross the shallow Kabamba river.

South Luangwa is home to elephants and buffalo, often in herds numbering hundreds strong. There are large populations of the beautiful Thornicraft’s giraffe, with their white legs and faces. Crawshay’s zebra and Cookson’s wildebeest are endemic, or near endemic, to the valley and easily spotted. Antelope, especially impala, puku (rarely seen outside Zambia), bushbuck and waterbuck wander the wide-open plains. Hippos and crocodiles are hard to miss along the river banks. The main predators in the Luangwa Valley are lion, leopard, spotted hyena and wild dog. Of these, lion are probably the most common, and their prides are often seen roaming the park. Leopards, of which there are many in the park, their density being amongst the highest in the world, hunt in the dense woodlands. The park’s birdlife is tremendous with everything from the sombre looking ground hornbills to the colourful carmine bee-eaters.

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Patrick Bentley - Connection: A tender moment between a leopard mother and cub.

Founded as a game reserve in 1938, it became a national park in 1972 and now covers 9,050km2. But it has not all been smooth sailing. The park faces widespread poaching of big game (for ivory and game meat) and there is the never ending challenge of snaring, which is not only a direct threat, but also represents a danger to non-target species such as elephants, lions and wild dogs. Consumption of bush meat and trafficking in wildlife products is reaching an all-time high.

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Patrick Bentley - Hollywood: A beautiful young lioness from the Hollywood pride.

Enter Conservation South Luangwa (CSL)

CSL is a Zambian, non-profit, wildlife protection and rescue organisation whose mission is “to work with community and conservation partners in the protection of the wildlife and habitats of the South Luangwa ecosystem”. In an attempt to hold back the current onslaught on wildlife CSL’s projects include:

Wildlife rescue and de-snaring:

CSL works with the Department of National Parks and Wildlife and the Zambian Carnivore Project to mount regular patrols and rescues, working to combat the snares, wildlife’s ‘silent killers’. Snares that are responsible for the deaths of thousands of animals in the Luangwa Valley annually.

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Human wildlife conflict mitigation:

CSL have a large scale programme centred around the use of chillies as a mitigation measure, to help alleviate the damage communities in the areas surrounding the park experience, when elephants, unable to resist temptation, raid farmer’s crops and fruit trees.

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Law Enforcement Support

CSL funds salaries and provides technical support, equipment, rations, training and transport for 65 community based scouts. In addition they assist with aerial surveillance and monitoring in the park.

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Detection Dogs Unit

In 2014 CSL set up Zambia’s first ‘sniffer dog unit’ that works to detect illegal wildlife products and firearms. Conservation does not come cheap and CSL is reliant on funding and donations to maintain its presence in the park and continue protecting the precious wildlife of South Luangwa.

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Enter Patrick Bentley

Patrick Bentley is an award winning fine art nature photographer from Zambia. He creates images using a variety of techniques and creative ideas to provide a fresh perspective on the natural world, with a particular emphasis on black and white, infrared and aerial photography, sometimes in combination.

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The subjects of Patrick’s images are the iconic wild animals of the Luangwa Valley, each one a character with a defined role in his photo narrative of life in this unspoilt corner of Zambia. Patrick’s photographs provide an insight into their uniqueness and individuality. Through his work, an observer cannot help but feel an emotional connection with the magnificence of this region, where the untamed Luangwa River and the Valley’s fertile soils and lush vegetation create a wildlife haven like no other in Africa. It is a place of unparalleled beauty and dramatic seasonal variations, an environment that demands protection.

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Patrick has collected together a stunning selection of his photographs in his book, TIMELESS. The images in TIMELESS are a celebration of South Luangwa in all its beauty and glory. Many of the book’s images are hauntingly beautiful, others strikingly dramatic and yet more seem magically ethereal; this is a book that captures the true soul of African wildlife in all its many moods.

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The introduction to the book was written by Rachel McRobb (CEO and founder of Conservation South Luangwa) and $20 from every book sold will go directly to CSL to support their commitment to the conservation and preservation of the local wildlife and natural resources in South Luangwa.

An excerpt from the introduction reads… “TIMELESS is a book that fills me with hope. Such an important emotion in the preservation of wild spaces, it is hope that drives us on. Hope that despite the seemingly endless fight against the destruction of nature, others will be inspired to join our cause and that the Luangwa Valley and the magnificent animals that live here will endure.”

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Patrick Bentley - Ebony and Ivory: Two big elephant bulls follow the course of the Mwamba River.

Enter Lion Camp

Lion Camp in South Luangwa was Patrick’s base for a considerable time and the majority of the images in his book were taken in the vicinity of this special camp. Set in a unique location in the remote north of the park and surrounded with an abundance of wildlife. Lion Camp is the epitome of luxury, whilst still allowing guests to feel wholly immersed in the bush. Game viewing from the stunning swimming pool area, or from the privacy of your own beautifully appointed tent, is something not to be taken for granted. Herds of zebra, impala and puku graze nearby as you enjoy a champagne and brunch on the deck. Elephants and warthogs taking mud-baths mere metres from your personal verandah. Delicious dinners, paired with fine wines are accompanied by the distant calls of lion and hyena. Drives through the park, escorted by your experienced and professional guide, are a experience never to be forgotten. Totally refurbished and recently reopened, Lion Camp is the perfect place to witness Patrick’s photos come to life and to experience the wildlife that CSL works so hard to protect.

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South Luangwa National Park, Conservation South Luangwa, Patrick Bentley and Lion Camp… all coming together for wildlife.

Order the book here: www.patrickbentley.com/timeless

Image Credits: 1.Patrick Bentley, 2.Patrick Bentley, 3.Patrick Bentley, 4.CSL , 4.5.CSL , 5. CSL, 6. CSL, 7. CSL, 8. Patrick Bentley, 9. Patrick Bentley, 10.Patrick Bentley, 11. Patrick Bentley, 12. Patrick Bentley, 13.Lion Camp, 13.5.Lion Camp

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