Namibia Fauna and Flora

By | May 3, 2021

For nature lovers and photographers, Namibia is one of the most spectacular countries in Africa, with a whole range of plants and animals, some of which are only found in Namibia or the region. Characteristic Namibia photos often show the camel thorn tree (Acacia erioloba), the bizarre-looking quiver trees (Quiver Trees, Aloe dichotoma) and of course the national plant of the country, the Welwitschia mirabilis. A good, but strongly generalized overview of the main vegetation zones of Namibia is given by a map of the Digital Atlas of Namibia.

Due to the dry climate, extensive forests in Namibia are only found to a very limited extent, and only in the more humid north and northeast of the country. According to “Forests and Woodlands of Namibia” there are three categories: ‘Woodland’, ‘Open Forest’ and ‘Forest’. Only the last category corresponds at least approximately to what is understood by a ‘forest’ in Europe. There are only a few and small occurrences of this, mainly west of Grootfontein and in the extreme north of the Kavango and Zambezi region along the Angolan border.

In addition, there are trees in and along large dry rivers, which, however, cannot actually be called forests. An overview of the tree species occurring in Namibia is given in a tree atlas of Namibia.

According to aristmarketing, Namibia’s fauna includes the full range of fauna typical of southern Africa, including the ‘Big Five’: elephant, rhinoceros (both black and white rhinoceros), buffalo, lion and leopard. But cheetahs, numerous species of antelopes and gazelles, giraffes, warthogs, monkeys and an extremely rich bird life also characterize Namibia. Many of the large animals (including rhinos and elephants) are not only found in Namibia in the well-known national parks such as Etosha or Sossusvlei, but also outside, in the wild, so to speak.

Especially in the northern and central parts of the country (Damaraland, Kunene, Caprivi, but also in Erongo, Kavango and other regions) this repeatedly leads to serious traffic accidents, including on the major highways. Most of the time, clashes with antelopes and warthogs are the trigger, but clashes with elephants also occur occasionally. In the rivers in the far north and northeast of the country (especially in the Kavango and Zambezi (Caprivi) regions) there are numerous crocodiles and hippos, and encounters with fishermen and children playing in the water repeatedly lead to serious incidents.

Namibia is world famous for its desert elephants and desert lionswhich over time have adapted in a unique way to the extremely dry conditions in the areas west of Etosha Park. In the seasonal rhythm they migrate from Damaraland and Kaokoveld down the dry rivers to the west almost to the Skeleton Coast. A tourist highlight on the Skeleton Coast is the seal colony at Cape Cross, about 130 km north of Swakopmund. It is considered one of the largest seal colonies in the world.

The fauna and flora of Namibia can best be observed in the country’s numerous national parks. Various thematic maps at the beginning of this page provide an overview of the most important national parks.

Namibia has done groundbreaking with its national parks. Approx. 20% of the land area of Namibia are protected areas. In addition to the Etosha Park, which is certainly the most famous park in the country, these include the various national parks along the Atlantic coast:

  • the Skeleton Coast National Park, which extends from the Ugab district north of Cape Cross to the north as far as the Angolan border,
  • the Dorob National Park, which adjoins the Skeleton National Park immediately to the south and runs in the south to the Kuiseb Revier south of Walvis Bay,
  • the Namib-Naukluft National Park with the dunes of Sossusvlei and the Sesriem Canyon as special highlights, which connects to the Dorob National Park to the south and extends to L├╝deritz,
  • the Sperrgebiet National Park, which connects to the south of the Namib-Naukluft Park and extends to the Oranje, the border river to South Africa.

With the exception of the urban areas of the few towns along the coast, the entire Atlantic coast enjoys national park status, from Angola in the north to the South African border in the south. There are also various other national parks in other parts of the country:

  • the relatively small, but much-visited Waterberg Plateau National Park due to its convenient location,
  • the cross-border Ai-Ais Richtersveld Transfrontier National Park in the south of the country, jointly proclaimed with South Africa,
  • the Khaudum National Park in the east of the Kavango region as well
  • the Bwabwater National Park and the two smaller parks Mamili National Park and Mudumu National Park in the Zambezi Region (formerly Caprivi).

An – at least on paper – interesting new concept is “KAZA”, the Kavango-Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area, a cross-border national park that consists of parts of the national territories of five countries. The project is co-financed to a considerable extent by the Reconstruction Loan Corporation (KfW) as part of the German-Namibian development cooperation. The measures funded by KfW particularly support the development of tourism-relevant infrastructure in the park area. In addition to Namibia, these are Angola, Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe. With an area of 444,000 square kilometers, the KAZA area, which was officially opened in 2012, is the second largest contiguous protected area in the world after the Northeast Greenland National Park.

Namibia Fauna and Flora