North Luangwa gains its outstanding global value from the Luangwa River, which has shaped a rich and biodiverse landscape over millennia, and its pristine wilderness
The remote North Luangwa National Park in Zambia is one of the finest wilderness experiences in the entire Southern African region, boasting the “big five” – elephant, buffalo, rhino, leopard, and lion – as well as the endemic Cookson’s wildebeest.
In 2003, an ambitious translocation was started to reintroduce the black rhino back into the park. As a result, the North Luangwa National Park harbors Zambia’s only black rhino population and is now home to Zambia’s highest elephant population.
North Luangwa National Park is the anchor of the transboundary conservation initiative, the Malawi Zambia Transfrontier Conservation Area encompassing more than 32,000 km².
Rhino Rescue Mission
In 2021, a young male black rhino broke away from North Luangwa National Park and settled 220 km away in a remote area of the Luangwa Valley.
As there was no road access to the area, an unprecedented rescue mission had to be attempted by slinging the rhino from a helicopter. Conservationists have pioneered rhino “slinging” from helicopters, but this had never been attempted in Zambia, and never over such a long distance.
On April 8th, the Rhino & Elephant Protection Unit (REPU) and a team of experts embarked on the rescue mission. They located and tranquilized the rhino, attached a sling, and safely airlifted it. The veterinarians flew ahead to the next checkpoint, and two additional stops to NLNP were made en route to refuel and complete vet checks on the rhino. After just four hours, the rhino arrived back in the park, where he was carefully monitored before being released.