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Namibia Wildlife

At first glance, Namibia may seem like a dry and desolate country with not much in the way of wildlife, however, if you know what you are doing, you will see a host of endemic animals that will spark the imagination from black backed jackals and ostriches, to desert beetles that drink moisture from the dew that they trap on their legs.

Animals to see on a safari in Namibia

Some of the ‘bigger hitters’ do also compete with the traditional east African safari destinations, with herds of desert-adapted elephants, rhino, lion, as well as the largest population of cheetah on the continent. Spotting these beasts to the backdrop that Namibia affords is truly a treat for any safari-goer. Damaraland is also one of the likely first places you will come across Namibia’s wildlife as it plays host to desert-adapted elephants and black rhino.

Oryx

Namibia’s national animal, the Oryx, or Gemsbok, is a large antelope with long horns and a thick horse-like neck, short mane and compact, muscular body and elegant black and white markings that contrast with their fawn body. They can be found grazing in groups of 10-40 and are adapted to the arid savannah, such as the Namid or Kalahari Desert. There are currently approx 373,000 gemsbok in Namibia. Spot their large-hooved tracks in the sand, they may be surprisingly approachable although some can be aggressive.

Desert-adapted Elephants

Northwest Namibia is home to one of the two populations of desert-adapted elephants in the world. You can find them in the Kunene region, in Damaraland and the Skeleton Coast National Park alongside black rhino, giraffe and zebra. To survive the harsh desert environment these elephants have larger feed for ease of movement across the sand. They also have to travel longer distances to find water and so they have adapted to store water in their throats which they collect with their trunks so they can go a few days without a drink.

Black-backed jackals

Similar to wolves and foxes, the black-backed jackal can survive in a harsh arid environment as their kidneys have adapted to survive without water. They can be seen feeding on small mammals, birds, reptiles, fruits and they will hunt both alone and together in a team to take down large prey.

NAM St Namibia Etosha National Park Shutterstock Ondrej Prosicky

Vultures

In northeast Namibia you will find the white-backed vulture. The vulnerable lappet-faced vulture is found in southern Namibia and they breed in the Namib Desert.

Black Rhinoceros

Namibia is one of the few countries where the critically endangered black rhinoceros can still be found in the wild. Conservation efforts have helped to stabilize their population, which now numbers around 2,000 individuals.

Springbok

These small antelopes are common throughout Namibia, including the arid desert areas of the Namib Desert, the savannas of Etosha National Park, and the grasslands of the country's interior. They have a cinnamon-colored coat with a white face, underbelly, and rump. A dark brown stripe runs along their sides, and they have a prominent flap of skin on their back, which they can raise when they perform their characteristic high jumping behaviour. This behavior, known as pronking or stotting, is a way to deter predators and signal to the group. It involves springing into the air with all four legs extended and then landing on all fours.

African Buffalo

Buffalo can be found in various parts of Namibia, including the Caprivi Region and Bwabwata National Park. African buffalo are known for their social behaviour and often live in large herds, sometimes numbering in the hundreds, typically led by dominant bulls. Buffalo herds are known to graze during the day and seek shelter from predators at night. They are herbivorous animals, primarily grazing on grasses, but they may also feed on other vegetation, depending on the availability of food in their habitat.