One of Namibia’s great draw cards in tourism is that it offers accessible and rewarding game viewing. Then again you can drive your 4×4 into inaccessible and desolated places to see rare desert adapted species or the untamed green jungle of the Caprivi Strip. Namibia’s 23 government parks and game reserves offer Namibia’s animals a peaceful existence in a pristine environment. Namibia’s visitors can hope to see many large game species such as lion, leopard, rhino, elephant, cheetah, crocodile, buffalo, giraffe and more than 20 species of antelope. Namibia’s characteristic species include the statuesque gemsbok. This strong antelope can be found even in the driest areas. Its black and white coast with long straight horn makes it an impressive appearance. The gemsbok or Oryx is portrayed on Namibia’s coat of arms and frequently photographed in the foreground of the Namib’s towering red dunes.
Namibia is also home to several indigenous and endangered species. The black-faced impala is the only indigenous antelope species and is one of eight indigenous mammals. About 30 endemic lizard species can be found in the Namib Desert. The black rhino is heavily endangered and Namibia’s Etosha National Park is one of the world’s best venues to see this rare beast. The African wild dog is another species under threat. The ruthless hunter can be seen in the thick bush of the Caprivi Strip. Namibia’s other inhabitant on the endangered list are cheetah, lion, puku, oribi and waterbuck.
Etosha – Namibia’s Favourite Park
If there is a wildlife venue that stands out in Namibia it is Etosha National Park. The 22 912 km² area that includes a 5 000 km² salt pan one of the most popular tourist attractions in Southern Africa. Etosha is Malaria-free and accessible in a regular sedan vehicle. The mostly sparse vegetation and the wildlife concentration at the waterholes make game viewing easy and rewarding. Countless springbok and zebra can roam the open plains. Giraffe, elephant, Gemsbok and wildebeest are common and those with a little more patient have great chance of seeing the endangered black rhino or a pride of lions. The floodlit waterhole at Okaukuejo is a firm favourite with visitors as elephant, rhino and lion come to drink at night.
Birds for Africa
From the rivers of the Kavango and Caprivi Regions to the coastal strip and the arid Namib and Kalahari Deserts Namibia offers a diverse range of habitats for its 676 recorded bird species. 500 species breed locally and 11 are endemic. Birding hotspots are the mighty rivers in the north, the Sandwich Harbour Lagoon and the Etosha Pan after it is has been filled with rain. When the salt pan is covered with shallow water, huge flocks of flamingo form a pink cloud in Etosha National Park.
Species of special interest are endemic Damara tern, rockrunner, Herero chat and Monteiro’s hornbill. The African fish eagle features on the coat of arms and can be found in the northern flood plains. The cry of the fish eagle is one of Africa’s most typical sounds and will stay with nature lovers long after they left the continent.