Namibia Nature and Wildlife
Nature conservation is a major part of everyday life in Namibia and is a concern not only for the government but also for local populations. It was the first African country to include the protection of the government in its constitution. As a result of this, communities are given the opportunity to manage the wildlife around them by way of communal conservancies. These conservancies, when placed in the hands of the Namibian people have created a deep sense of ownership, thus encouraging the people to use natural resources sustainably. It has also been hugely beneficial for the economy with 2009 generating $42 million in Namibian dollars in income due to community-based natural resources for rural Namibians.
Over 40% of Namibia’s surface area is dedicated to conservation management. This includes national parks and reserves, communal and commercial conservancies, community forests and private nature reserves. Of the ten national parks in Namibia, Etosha National Park is perhaps the most famous. Etosha is a 22,750 square kilometre wildlife sanctuary world-renowned for its excellent game viewing and for its accessibility to the public. It hosts herds of springbok, gemsbok, zebra and blue wildebeest as well as smaller numbers of lions, cheetahs and leopards.
For a rather arid country, Namibia hosts one of the greatest wildlife populations in the world. Namibia is home to 676 birds, 90 of which are endemic to Southern Africa (13 are endemic to Namibia. It is also home to 217 mammal species, 26 of which are endemic. The “Big Five” which consists of the lion, elephant, rhinoceros, buffalo and leopard are found in different parts of the country. The “Big Five” was a term coined by hunters to encompass the most difficult and dangerous animals to hunt as well as the most desired trophies. Some people like to list the “Big Nine” which includes the hippo, zebra, cheetah and giraffe.
Between 1995-2008, the elephant population of Namibia doubled from 7,500 to over 16,000. Elephants can be found in three different parts of the country, they live in Etosha National Park and there are some in the Khaudrum and Caprivi regions while desert elephants (which are native to Namibia and Mali) can be found in Kunene.
Both species of rhino, black and white, are found in Namibia. The distinction between the two species actually has nothing to do with their colour. The white rhino gets its name from the Afrikaans word ‘weit’ meaning wide-mouthed while black rhinos have a hook-lipped mouths. Conservation projects regarding the endangered black rhino have been strong resulting in some rhinos being moved out of national parks and into communal conservancies.
Regarding big cats, lions are found in the central Kunene Region and in Etosha, as well as the eastern Otjozondjupa and Kavango and in eastern Caprivi. Namibia is the only country with an expanding population of free-roaming lions. It also has the largest population of free-roaming cheetahs which are found in central and northwestern areas. The leopard is widely distributed throughout the country. Their uncanny ability to adapt to change has allowed them to survive in the developing continent of Africa better than any other large animal.
Namibia’s Skeleton Coast is home to around twenty-three colonies of Cape Fur Seals. The National West Coast Tourism Recreation Area has a population of nearly 100,000 seals, making this region one of the largest seal reserves in the world.
The above is only a sampling of the incredibly diverse wildlife found throughout Namibia. The country’s commitment to conservation has created a unique destination for ecotourism and is ideal for any nature lover.
Namibia Travel Information
At Goway we believe that a well-informed traveller is a safer traveller. With this in mind, we have compiled an easy-to-navigate travel information section dedicated to Namibia.
Learn about the history and culture of Namibia, the must-try food and drink, and what to pack in your suitcase. Read about Namibia's nature and wildlife, weather and geography, along with 'Country Quickfacts' compiled by our travel experts. Our globetrotting tips, as well as our visa and health information, will help ensure you're properly prepared for a safe and enjoyable trip. The only way you could possibly learn more is by embarking on your journey and discovering Namibia for yourself. Start exploring… book one of our Namibia tours today!
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