Flora and fauna of North Luangwa
In general, the flora and fauna of the North Park are the same as those found in South Luangwa (see South Luangwa, Flora and Fauna). However, the inclusion of the escarpment in the park certainly brings a new dimension to the flora here. An excellent example is the road from Mano down from the escarpment, which is about 12km long. This brings you from the two-storey woodlands of the upper and plateau escarpment, with a lightly closed canopy of semi-evergreen trees 15–20m high, and down through the miombo woodlands on the hills to vegetation more typical of the Valley as most people know it.
Often there are bird species here that aren't usually found on the valley floor, and sometimes sable antelope, bushpig or blue monkeys. In the dry season, look also for signs of elephant, which often move into the mountains.
On the valley floor, the ecosystems of the two parks, and the native game species found therein, often seem virtually identical. The North Park has some East African bird species that don't occur further south – like the chestnut-mantled sparrow weaver, the white-winged starling, and especially the yellow-throated longclaw – but the differences in species are minor.
However, several differences are apparent. You're more likely to see Cookson's wildebeest, Connochaetes taurinus cooksoni
, one of the valley's endemic subspecies. The population seems much larger in the north of the valley than in the south. However, you won't find any giraffes here, as they don't seem to occur much north of the Mupamadzi River. (Phil Berry has reliable records of a few sightings here until about the mid-80s. John Coppinger comments that in his 14 years operating to the North Park since 1990, he's only ever received a report of one giraffe … and that was probably lost!)
Eland, the largest of the antelope, are more common here, and hartebeest are also seen more often than in the South Park. Given their long lifespan, and slow regeneration after poaching, elephant are scarce and skittish in the North Park. This is changing, and the population is growing, but it'll take a long time before they are as numerous, or as relaxed, as they are around Mfuwe.
Lion and buffalo seem to be numerous in the north, with buffalo herds even larger than those in the South Park, and some very strong prides of lion. Hyena are also common, and those in the North Park seem to hunt more than those in the South, and have developed a tactic of chasing puku into the Mwaleshi River in order to catch them. Those in the South Park tend perhaps to do a little more scavenging, and less hunting.
Then, of course, there are the re-introduced black rhino – see the section above for comments.