International Crane Foundation


Zambezi River

The endangered Wattled Crane depends on the waters of the Zambezi River.

Why We Care

Zambezi River locator mapThe Zambezi River is the lifeline of southern Africa, sustaining millions of people and one of the most productive and biologically diverse river-floodplain systems in Africa – and home to most of the world’s Wattled Cranes. Over the millennia, the valley floodplains were nourished by the annual spread of Zambezi floodwaters. Over the past 40 years, however, the communities and ecosystems of the lower Zambezi have been severely affected by the management of large upstream dams.


What We Do

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For more than 15 years, ICF has been leading international efforts to rehabilitate the Zambezi River system. We are engaged in the Zambezi River Environmental Flows Partnership with World Wildlife Fund and other colleagues in Africa to manage the quantity, quality, and timing of river flows for people and wildlife in balance with hydropower and other needs.

A Risky Climate for Southern Africa HydroDownload the report, A Risky Climate for Southern Africa Hydro: Assessing Hydrological Risks and Consequences for Zambezi River Basin Dams, by ICF President Dr. Rich Beilfuss and International Rivers.






Can dams and cranes co-exist? This is a central question to ICF’s work along the Zambezi River, where both human communities and cranes depend on the mighty river’s annual flood cycles.

ICF’s research in the Zambezi River basin began with studies of the long-term changes in the annual timing, magnitude, and duration of Zambezi water flows caused by dams, such as the Cahora Bassa pictured below, and how these changes were adversely affecting Endangered Wattled Cranes.

Read the Story 


Cahora Bassa Dam

People depend on the ZambeziLocal villagers rely on the waters of the Zambezi River for daily needs – changes in the hydrology of the river affect their lives as well as the lives of wildlife.