Plains game refers to a variety of herbivorous animals that inhabit open grasslands and savannas. Instantly, 99% of you will be thinking of large herds of skittish impala! Frequently seen on game drives, it’s easy to overlook their beauty and importance when we see them in such abundance. Or we’re scanning the trees and grasses looking for the predators who prey on them!

Plains game however also includes zebra, giraffe, wildebeest and other antelope such as puku, kudu and nyala. These animals play a crucial role in maintaining the balance and functioning of their ecosystems. Here are some reasons why plains game is important…

Biodiversity: Plains game species contribute to the overall biodiversity of their habitats. The presence of diverse species helps maintain a healthy and resilient ecosystem.

Vegetation control: Herbivores are essential for controlling plant populations. They consume grasses, leaves, and other plant parts, preventing overgrowth and maintaining a balance in vegetation density. By doing so, they facilitate the growth of new plant life and prevent any single plant species from dominating the ecosystem.

Nutrient cycling: The grazing and browsing activities of plains game facilitate nutrient cycling in their ecosystems. As they consume plant matter, they break down organic material, which returns essential nutrients to the soil through their waste products. This process enriches the soil, promoting the growth of new vegetation and supporting the entire food chain.

Prey for predators: Plains game species form a significant part of the prey base for predators, including lions, leopards, hyenas, and wild dogs. They serve as a vital link in the food chain, providing food and energy for these carnivorous species. The presence of herbivores ensures the survival and stability of predator populations, contributing to the overall balance of the ecosystem.

Plains game can be found throughout the area surrounding our camps. Our guides tell us some of their favourite spots…

Sly – Numbu Plains

To the North of Mwamba, the vast Numbu Plains are home to Cookeson’s Wildebeest, an endemic species found only in the South Luangwa National Park. We’ve also had good sightings of cerval and honey badger here too. Most famously though, it’s home to Mwamba’s star bed. Immersing you into the wild night, guests are treated to amazing star-gazing after dark.

photographic safari wildebeest

Patrick – Lion Plains

Situated between Kaingo and Mwamba, this open plain provides great visibility and amazing scenery, especially earlier in the season when it’s still green. As it dries, the concentration of game around the plants and shrubs is greater, particularly in the morning and late afternoon.

So-called because the lions in particular love this open area for hunting, it also attracts big flocks of queleas which gather for the grass seeds, in turn making it an ideal spot to see birds of prey hunting too.

Derek – Chikaya Plains

Inland from Mwamba, lies Chikaya Plain, one of my favourite places to visit. On the Southern side, the West Mwamba River changes from a sandy-banked river to a muddy-banked river in the space of about 2km. This is where we have the Baobab forest, with over 200 trees roughly the same age as the plain. A great place to enjoy a golden sunset with Baobab silhouettes.

Chikaya is raw, with access only through our firebreaks and anti-poaching tracks. Kudu, roan, reedbuck and eland are all frequently sighted here. It’s also where we conduct special pre-booked “camp outs”; sleeping under the stars in this vast wilderness is an experience you’ll never forget.

walking safaris

Close by is Kapanda Lagoon, as isolated seasonal oasis home to the Mwamba-Kapanda pride, consisting of around 9 females. The plains around us are bountiful, and where there is plains game, the big cats and predators aren’t far away!

With over 30 years of experience, we know what goes into planning a memorable safari.

Join us for your perfect safari – contact for bookings and enquires. 

About Alexandra

Alexandra Jonker has written 7 post in this blog.

Sales, Marketing & Reservations Manager at Shenton Safaris