The National Park and its history
Isangano National Park is known for its serene tranquillity, guaranteed to give you real peace of mind, with its lush green setting and undisturbed forest silence. The Isangano National Park became a protected wildlife reserve in 1957 and received National Park status in 1972. The game park consists of about 840 square kilometres of flat wetlands.
There is currently very little game in Isangano because of pressure from human settlement, agriculture and the consequent subsistence hunting. There is no maintained internal road network within the park at all, though there is quite a high density of subsistence farmers settled within its boundaries. Sadly it has declined since becoming a National Park in 1957, due to lack of support, infrastructure and management, coupled with people pressure and internal poaching.
Isangano National Park urgently requires protection and management to allow the diminished animal species left in the area to breed and restock this once spectacular wildlife sanctuary. This action will certainly benefit the local communities in the area. Whilst visitors are advised to look further west to the Bangweulu area if they want to visit this type of region, an opportunity exists to conserve and resuscitate Isangano back to its former status as a fully-fledged National Park.
Isangano National Park lies to the north east of the Bangweulu Swamps, which is a well known wetland area. The Bangweulu Swamps area, consisting of Lake Bangweulu, the Bangweulu Swamps and the flat plains of Bangweulu, is situated in the upper basin of the Congo River in Zambia. This wetland system is fed by 17 rivers, among which the Chambeshi is the largest. The Chambeshi River marks the eastern boundary while the Lubansenshi River runs through the middle. The western flood-plain area forms part of the Bangweulu flats. Erythrophleum – Pterocarpus woodland with tall grass and watershed plain grassland dominate the park. There are some areas of papyrus and phragmites along the two major rivers. Isangano National Park, as part of the Bangweulu Swamps area, shares the same type of ecosystem prevailing in the wetlands – swampy forests, grasslands and a wide range of biodiversity. Unfortunately, the ecosystem is under environmental stress and in need of conservation.
The wildlife found in this wetland area mostly consists of black lechwe, tsessebe, reedbuck, oribi, sitatunga, elephant, African buffalo, crocodile and hippopotamus. Zebra, antelope, hartebeest, roan antelope, eland, bushbuck and warthog may also be spotted but not in abundance. Isangano is also a favourite place for various water birds and numerous migratory species.
If you are looking for a location which will place you far from the madding crowd, then Isangano National Park is definitely a destination to consider. The environmental stress in the area is caused by human settlement and hunting (especially of the black lechwe), fishing and cattle-grazing, which have degraded it. Some of the chiefs in the area have attempted to regulate fishing and hunting. But for many people in the Bangweulu basin these activities are the only available means of livelihood.
This National Park would be an ideal development project for a conservation minded investor, through the formation of a trust or similar organisation with a management team to work closely with the Government and local people to preserve the wetlands and develop a viable community-friendly wildlife reserve.
Situated in the Luwingu and Kasama districts in Luapula province, Isangano National Park can be accessed from the west of Mpika or Mpulungu road near Chambeshi. Because of the remoteness of the park and the lack of roads and seasonal flooding it is advisable to visit the park with fully-equipped 4×4 vehicles and a well informed guide.
Facilities and where to stay
There are no facilities at all. This might be seen as a negative but does mean you won’t find the park buzzing with tourists. The best approach is to plan an organised expedition, with a knowledgeable guide, and full personal camping equipment. The area must first be tackled in the dry season (June – November) to gain familiarity of the conditions as most of the park is inaccessible in the wet season.
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