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The Zambezi Source National Monument is located in Mwinilunga, one of the seven districts in the North-western Province of Zambia. The Source of the Zambezi River is itself located some 53 Kilometres on the Northwest of Mwinilunga in Mukangala area and the total area of the site is 36 hectors
The site covers an area approximately 36.8 Hectares and was declared National Monument under Statutory Instrument No. 162 of 1983. The site is within the Zambezi Source National Forest No. P.80 and was also declared as a National Forest under Statutory Instrument No. 106 of 1984 giving the site double protection. This forest has been registered under Section C1 of the International Biological Programme and is one of the fifty (50) botanical reserves selected as the best preserved example of major vegetation.
The vegetation in the core area is the swamp/riparian forest and is important for covering the actual source of the Zambezi River. This forest is about 3 storeys (24m) high with a dense canopy and a more or less continuous shrub layer of between 2 to 3 metres high.
The geology is complex with rocks of the Kundulengu Upper and Lower Roan covering the area. The soils are plateau soils, sandy loams on the slopes up to the headwaters associated with deep leaf litter and peat in the valley bottom.
The mean annual rainfall is 1,372mm, and the prevailing winds most of the year, are south-westerly.
The Zambezi Source National Monument is the source to the Zambia's longest river and the Africa's fourth longest river, the Zambezi which stretches over a distance of 3, 500 Kilometres journey to the Indian Ocean forming the Zambezi Basin shared by 8 countries. The Zambezi basin constitutes one of Africa's most important natural resource. It is an important habitat as far as biodiversity is concerned.
The Zambezi Source is part and parcel of a Botanical reserve that supports endemic plants called Dissotis glandulosa and Elaphoglossum zambesionaum.
The site is a botanical reserve as it is one of the areas with high plant endemism in the world. The botanical reserve is registered under section C I of the International Biological Programme and is selected as one of fifty best preserved botanical reserves of the major vegetation types of Zambia.
The site benefits from dual legal protection as it was declared a National Monument under Statutory Instrument No. 162 of 1983 and is encircled by Protected Forest Area Number P.80 namely the Zambezi Source National Forest which was declared as such under Statutory Instrument No. 106 of 1984. The Forestry Act ensures the protection of the site in order to preserve and maintain the stream flow of the mighty Zambezi River while the Heritage Act ensures the safeguarding and conservation of the significant features of aesthetic and scientific interest and maintaining the legacy of the site as the cradle or birth place of Zambia.
There are similar sites such as the Cape Floral Region in South Africa with endemic species however the Zambezi Source is the only known place where the Dissotis glandulosa and Elaphoglossum zambesionaum plants are found and it is the only river source that gives 'birth' to Africa's fourth longest river.