Most of the territory is plateau and the prevailing type of vegetation is open woodland or savanna. Acacia and baobab trees, thorn trees and bushes, and tall perennial grasses are widespread, becoming coarser and sparser in the drier areas to the south. To the north and east grows a thin forest. The southwest has forests of Zambian teak ( Baikiaea plurijuga).
The national parks and game reserves, such as the Kafue National Park, conserve the wildlife threatened by settlement. The Cookson's wildebeest, Senga Kob, Thornicroft giraffe, and red lechwe are unique to Zambia. The many varieties of buck include kudu, impala, duiker, and sten. In Luangwa Valley can be found giraffe, zebra, rhinoceros, elephant, baboon, monkey, hyena, wolf, and lion. Among the nocturnal animals are serval and civet cat, genet, and jackal. Other mammals include the honey badger, ant bear, rock rabbit, wart hog, and bush pig.
Zambia has a wealth of bird life, including the eagle, gull, tern, kingfisher, swift, redwing, lark, babbler, sunbird, weaver, redbilled quelea (in Luangwa Valley), stork, goose, plover, skimmer, bee-eater, wagtail, sparrow, swallow, thrush, shrike, nightingale, dove, nightjar, and an occasional ostrich. White pelican, flamingo, heron, ibis, and the crowned crane are found in the game reserves.
There are more than 150 recorded species of reptiles, including 78 species of snakes and 66 of lizards. Among them are the crocodile, tortoise, turtle, terrapin, gecko, agama, nonvenomous python, mamba, viper, and adder. The range of species of fish is also wide and includes bream, snoutfish, butterfish, tigerfish, bottlenose, gorgefish, mudfish, catfish, barbel, "vundu," squeaker, whitebait, perch, carp, bass, and "utaka" (of the sardine type). Insect types number in the thousands, and many are peculiar to the area. The Copperbelt region and the swamps of Lake Bangweulu are especially rich in insect life.