Location: Katombora Islands

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Photo: Bart Wursten

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Photo: Bart Wursten

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Photo: Bart Wursten

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Photo: Bart Wursten

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Photo: Bart Wursten

General Information

Quarter degree square: 1725C4

Country: Zambia

Habitat: Dense riverine vegetation and seasonally flooded riverbanks on basalt and Kalahari sand.

Altitude range: c 910m

Annual rainfall:

Location (short):

Location (detailed):


The Katombora Islands are located in the Zambesi River, about 50 km upstream from the Victoria Falls. Most of the island system is in Zambian waters and only a small part is Zimbabwean territory and therefore part of the Western Division. Nevertheless it has proven to be an important showcase of the unique flora on the upper Zambesi.

Covering c 5 square kms, the islands are divided by a maze of channels, some no wider than a mountain stream and seasonal, while others are larger perennial river channels. Surrounded by a large complex of white water rapids, caused by several fault lines in the underlying basalt rock, the islands are inaccessible to large game, including elephants. The fishing communities on the Zambian side of the river regard the islands as sacred and have had only minor impact on the island vegetation.

The flora is probably one of the last examples of unspoiled riparian forest on this part of the Zambesi River. Large specimens of Diospyros mespiliformis (Ebenaceae), Garcinia livingstonei (Clusiaceae) and Syzygium guineense subsp. barotsense (Myrtaceae) are common. The understorey is rich in species, including rare trees, such as Homalium abdessammadii (Flacourtiaceae), Croton leuconeurus (Euphorbiaceae) and Turraea zambesica (Meliaceae)

Useful links

View a list of records for Katombora Islands

View map showing records

View a list of recorders who have visited this location

Copyright: Mark Hyde, Bart Wursten, Petra Ballings and Meg Coates Palgrave, 2014-24

Hyde, M.A., Wursten, B.T., Ballings, P. & Coates Palgrave, M. (2024). Flora of Malawi: Location details: Katombora Islands.
https://www.malawiflora.com/speciesdata/location-display.php?location_id=16, retrieved 24 June 2024

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