The wildlife in Kasanka has specialist species including sitatunga, Lichtenstein’s hartebeest, grysbok, yellowbacked duiker and blue monkey. It is also the site to one of greatest wildlife spectacles in Africa when over ten million straw-coloured fruitbats descend on the park.
This phenomenon happens from mid-October to December coinciding with the start of the rainy season, which ripens the local fruits and berries, such as masuku, waterberry and mufinsa. All the bats choose to roost in a large patch of indigenous woodland (locally known as 'mshitu' or swamp forest) and this creates what is believed to be the highest density of mammals on the planet.
This huge gathering of fruitbats attracts various other predators and scavengers who end up having a rather bat-based diet for a couple of months. Life isn’t particularly easy for the bats with African hawk eagles, martial eagles, hobby falcons and kites being just some of the raptors that venture into the roost. Furthermore, there are leopards, crocodiles and water monitors waiting for those bats that are unlucky enough to fall to the forest floor.
The birdlife is also exceptional with nearly 400 species. Some of the highlights are the rare Pel’s fishing owl, wattled crane and Ross’ lourie. All of these birds attract small predators, such as civet, caracal and honey badger sneaking in the long grass. Kasanka is a particularly good place to visit between March and June when the rains have stopped but the towering cumulo-nimbus clouds, lush greenery and fairly high water level make for superb photographic opportunities.
The habitat here is mixed – miombo woodland, riverine forest and papyrus swamps, together with lakes, lagoons, plains, dambos and marshes.
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