Protected areas of Namibia

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Protected areas in Namibia

The protected areas of Namibia include its national parks and reserves. With the 2010 declaration of Dorob National Park, Namibia became the first and only country to have its entire coastline protected through a national parks network.[1] Protected areas are subdivided into game reserves and/or nature reserves, such as special protected area, wilderness areas, natural areas, and development areas. There are also recreation reserves.[2] Facilities in the national parks are operated by Namibia Wildlife Resorts.[3] Over 19% of Namibia is protected, an area of some 130,000 square kilometres.[4] However, the Ministry of Environment & Tourism auctions limited hunting rights within its protected areas.[4] The Namibia Nature Foundation, an NGO, was established in 1987 to raise and administer funds for the conservation of wildlife and protected area management. Communal Wildlife Conservancies in Namibia help promote sustainable natural resource management by giving local communities rights to wildlife management and tourism.

National parks[edit]

Image Name Established Area (km2) Summary
Village in caprivi flood plain.jpg Bwabwata National Park 2007 6100 The NP includes the Mahango Game Park and Caprivi Game Park. Vegetation consists of tree and shrub savannah biome such as Zambezi teak (Baikiaea plurijuga), wild seringa (Burkea africana), and African teak (Pterocarpus angolensis). Some of the larger mammals include the Cape buffalo, hippopotamus, roan antelope, and predators are Katanga lion, leopard, Namibian cheetah and spotted hyena. Important bird species include black-winged pratincole and slaty egret.[5][6][7]
Dorob Nationalpark.jpg Dorob National Park 2010 57772 Dorob NP, meaning "dry land", is a 1,600 kilometres (990 mi) long strip of land, encompassing belts of coastal dunes and gravel plains, as well as Ramsar listed wetlands. With the park's creation the coastline from the Kunene River on the Angolan border to the Orange River on the South African border become a solid barrier of parks.[8]


Dust Cloud in Etosha National Park.jpg Etosha National Park 1907 22220 The Etosha salt pans are the most noticeable geological features in the park. Vegetation types are mostly of woodland (mopane, the most common tree) and also savanna, grasslands and saline desert. There are about 114 mammal species, 340 bird species, 110 reptile species, 16 amphibian species and 1 species of fish (up to 49 species of fish during floods.) Mountain zebra is found in the largest numbers (2235).[12]
Kalahari E02 00.jpg Khaudom National Park 3657.91 The dominant vegetation in the park, which is located in the Kalahari Desert is species-rich, high and short dry forest and dry acacia forest. Large mammals in the park include more than 3500 elephants, giraffes and antelopes, including horse antelopes, kudus, lyre antelopes, elands and reedbucks. 320 species of birds inhabit the area, including parrots and more than 50 birds of prey.[8]
Map Nkasa Rupara National Park.jpg Mamili National Park renamed Nkasa Rupara National Park in 2012 1 March 1990 343.17 The dominant flora is broadleaved trees and can be described as a Savanna biome and the vegetation type is Caprivi floodplains. Some of the mammals found include the elephant, the Cape buffalo (about 1,000 head of population), hippopotamus (560) and crocodile (500). Around 450 bird species have also been reported.[13][14]
Mudumu National Park.JPG Mudumu National Park 1990 737 This park is an important migration route of African elephant and many other large animals from Botswana to Angola. 430 bird species, including African fish eagle, African skimmer and western-banded snake eagle have been reported. Fish species in the park include the tiger fish and tilapia.[15]
NamibNaukluftParkDunes.JPG Namib-Naukluft National Park 1 August 1979 49,768 The Namib Desert (considered the world's oldest desert) and the Naukluft mountain range are part of the park. The desert dunes taper off near the coast, and lagoons, wetlands, and mudflats. In the hyper-arid region faunal species reported are snakes, geckos, unusual insects, hyenas, gemsboks and Black-backed jackals.[16][17]
Skeleton Coast National Park 1971 16,845 Designated in 1971, this park gets its name from the skeletal remains of shipwrecks which are a numerous occurrence on this stretch of coastline. There are elephants which live in desert dunes and Southwest African lions in the park. Springbok, plains zebra, gemsbok, jackals and ostrich are also reported. In the offshore part of the park, dolphins and whales are sighted.[18]
Waterberg Plateau.jpg Waterberg National Park 1972 405 Several of Namibia's endangered species were moved into this waterberg park (waterberg means "hill of water") for conservation. In 1989, black rhinoceros was reintroduced to the area from Damaraland. Sable, rone antelope, red heartebeest and steenbok are reported in the park. The lower hills of the mountain have over 200 species of bird with some rare species of small antelope. Some of the key bird species are black eagles, peregrine falcons and Cape vulture.[19]

Nature reserves[edit]

Brandberg Nature Reserve[edit]

Brandberg Nature Reserve is located in Damaraland and surrounds the entire Brandberg Mountain massif, the highest mountain in Namibia which 175 kilometres north of Swakopmund.[20] It became a nature reserve in 1951.[21] The Ugab River flows in the area.[22]

Cape Cross Seal Reserve[edit]

Cape Cross is a protected area under the name Cape Cross Seal Reserve. The reserve is the home of one of the largest colonies of Cape fur seals in the world.[23] Cape Cross is one of two main sites in Namibia where seals are culled, partly for selling their hides and partly for protecting the fish stock. The economic impact of seals on the fish resources is controversial: While a government-initiated study found that seal colonies consume more fish than the entire fishing industry can catch,[24] animal protection society Seal Alert South Africa estimated less than 0.3% losses to commercial fisheries.[25]

Caprivi Game Park[edit]

The Caprivi Game Park is located within Bwabwata NP. The reserve is 5,715 square kilometres (2,207 sq mi) in size. It is situated in the northeast of the country on the Caprivi Strip.[26] It is one of the wettest areas of the country, especially during the southern hemisphere winter months of December to March. The landscape consists mainly of swamps, floodplains, wetland, and deciduous woodland, especially wild seringa, copalwood and Zambezi teak, and is biologically rich with over 450 animal species such as elephant, roan, kudu, and buffalo, and over 400 species of birds.[26] Elephants are particularly populous in the western part of the Caprivi, where they flourish in the thick mixed vegetation and dunes.[27]

Daan Viljoen Game Reserve[edit]

Blue wildebeest

The Daan Viljoen Game Reserve is a game reserve near Windhoek, situated in the hill area of Khomas Hochland.[20] Over 200 species are found here, typical of the Namibian highlands, including Hartmann's mountain zebra, blue wildebeest, kudu, gemsbok, springbok, impala, rockrunner, white-tailed shrike, Monteiro's hornbill, Bradfield's swift, Rüppell's parrot and Carp's tit.[20] In the 1990s a number of indigenous people in the area were resettled by the Namibian government.[20] The park has many walking paths and allows tourists to travel around by themselves. It closed in 2010 to allow for the construction of the Sun Karros Daan Viljoen Lodge but has since reopened.

Ehirovipuka Conservancy[edit]

Ehirovipuka Conservancy is a nature reserve situated in the Kunene Region. It was established in January 2001 and covers an area of 1,980 square kilometres (760 sq mi).[28] The reserve consists of mainly semi-desert and savannah woodlands, and the Ombonde River flows through the area.[28] Animals living there include African bush elephant, African leopard, Southwest African lion, South African cheetah, common eland, kudu, duiker, warthog, steenbok, gemsbok, Angolan giraffe, springbok, South African ostrich, and Hartman's mountain zebra.[28][29][30] It contains a meat processing plant supplying tourist lodges.[31] Other economic activity includes forestry and the sale of traditional craft products.[32] Ehirovipuka Conservancy received a 20-year tourism concession in 2010.[33][34]

Erindi Private Game Reserve[edit]

The Erindi Game Reserve ('Erendi' meaning "Place of Water") is in the heart land of Namibia and covers an area of 70,000ha. It is located 40 km to the east of Omaruru town and lies between the Erongo Mountain Rhino Sanctuary Trust of Namibia and the Omataku Mountains. Habitats recorded are of mountainous areas, riverine vegetation, inselbergs ("island mountains") and grassland savannahs. Leopard research is an important activity in the reserve. It also has a notable population of south-western black rhinoceros, lion, brown hyena, leopard and cheetah.[35]

Gamsberg Nature Reserve[edit]

Gamsberg Nature Reserve is in central Namibia, located west of Rehoboth. It surrounds Gamsberg, Namibia's fourth highest mountain, with a peak elevation of 2,347 metres (7,700 ft).[36]

Hardap Nature Reserve[edit]

Hardap Nature Reserve surrounds Namibia's largest Hardap Dam, which opened in 1964 as a recreational area.[37] Listed under IUCN Category IV,[37] as of 2004 the park it covered an area of 252 square kilometres (97 sq mi), of which about 10% formed the lake area.[36][38] As Reader's Digest said though, "ironically, although Hardap is one of Namibia's best-known resorts, the nature reserve is unfamiliar to the large majority of visitors."[39] It contains over 100 species of birds.[38]

Kaokoland Nature Reserve[edit]

The Kaokoland Nature Reserve is located in northwestern Namibia and is separated from the Atlantic Ocean by the Skeleton Coast National Park. Open to visitors throughout the year, the reserve extends over more than 10,000 km2 of wide grassy plains and mountain ranges. The reserve contains animals such as the elephant, black rhino, giraffe, springbok, lion and ostrich.

Kaudom Game Reserve[edit]

The Kaudom Game Reserve located in the extreme northeastern part of Namibia covers an area of 300 km2. Divided by the Kalahari Desert, it has dry forest vegetation such as omuramba and deciduous trees of rare wood. Many subterranean streams flow through the park. It has 64 mammal species; these are elephants, buffaloes, giraffes, blue wildebeest, kudu, gemsbok, elands, tsessebes, roan antelope, and many species of predators. There are also 300 species of birds which include birds of prey.[19][40]

Mahango Game Park[edit]

The Mahango Game Park was established in 1986. It is 250 square kilometres (97 sq mi) in size and is situated within the Bwabwata NP, and comprises a vast expanse of flood plains as part of the Okavango River basin. There are 300 bird species and very large baobab trees. It has 99 species of mammals considered the second most species-rich area in Namibia. There are 71 species (including two threatened species) of fish reported from the Kavango River that flows through the park.[41][42]

Naankuse Wildlife Sanctuary[edit]

A cheetah in the Naankuse Wildlife Sanctuary.

The Naankuse Wildlife Sanctuary covers an area of 3,200 ha which is a sanctuary for orphaned animals. Some of the animals tended are lions, leopards, cheetahs, wild dogs, caracals and baboons. The animals reported in the wild of the sanctuary are giraffe, zebra, kudu, hartebeest, springbok, eland, jackal and also wild cheetahs and leopards.[43] The sanctuary has developed a new method to identify cheetahs in the wild based on their paw prints. This is done in association with Wildtrack, AfriCat and Chester Zoo.[44]

NamibRand Nature Reserve[edit]

The NamibRand Nature Reserve is a private nature reserve (largest such reserve in Africa) covering an area of 202,200 ha with four habitats of dunes and sandy plains, inselbergs and mountains gravel plains, and sand and gravel plains interface. The largest number of oryx gazelle (gemsbok or oryx) (3,200) and Antidorcas marsupialis (springbok) (12,400) are the dominant mammal species in the reserve. 150 bird species of birds are also reported. Other wild animals which are predators, recorded in the reserve are leopard, spotted and brown hyena, black-backed jackal, aardwolf, bat-eared fox, Cape fox, Southern African wildcat, caracal and genet.[45][46]

Naukluft Mountain Zebra Park[edit]

A harem of mountain zebras.

The Naukluft Mountain Zebra Park was established in 1968. The Naukluftfarm was purchased and converted into the protected park with the objective of protecting the endangered Hartmann's mountain zebra. Based on an ecological survey in 1970 more private farms were purchased to establish a corridor of passage for gemsbok to travel between the dunes and the mountains. In 1979, Diamond Area 2 was also added. After the conservation effort was successful, the park was merged with the Namib Desert Park and the larger Namib-Naukluft Park covering an area of 23 340 km2 was established in 1986.[47]

Omaruru Nature Reserve[edit]

The Omaruru Nature Reserve in the National West Coast Recreation Area is a privately owned reserve. 'Omaru' means "bitter, thick milk" in Herero language and is a result of cattle eating bitter brush grown in the area, and then producing bitter milk. The plant is very sturdy and remains green even after all the other plants have become insipid or tasteless in the area.[48]

Palmwag Nature Reserve[edit]

The Palmwag Nature Reserve is in Northern Namibia and covers an area of 400,000 ha. The reserve has the largest population of black rhinos in Africa; a local organisation called Save the Rhino Trust protects them. Some of the wildlife reported are; leopards, lions, cheetas, mountain zebras, giraffes, springboks, kudus, and desert elephants.[49]

Popa Game Park[edit]

The Popa Game Park is a small park where the Popa water fall, which drops by only 3 m over rapids on the Okavango River, is situated. Its thunderous sound is heard over a long distance. Bird species are a common sight and hippopotamus inhabit the river.[40]

Tsaobis Leopard Park[edit]

The Tsaobis Leopard Park is the only nature reserve in Namibia to conserve leopards in particular.[50] Situated south of Omaruru and east of Swakopmund,[51] it was established in 1969.[52]

Transboundary Protected Areas[edit]

Left: Entrance to Ai-Ais Hot Springs; right: Fish River Canyon within the Ai-Ais/Richtersveld Transfrontier Park.

The protection is not necessarily limited to inside the borders of Namibia. In 2007 the Ai-Ais/Richtersveld Transfrontier Park, an international peace park, was created through the joint management of the Ai-Ais Hot Springs park, which includes parts of Fish River Canyon, and the Richtersveld National Park in neighbouring South Africa.[4] Fauna includes rock hyrax, ground squirrel, jackal buzzard and Hartmann's mountain zebra.

In 2006, the countries of Namibia, Angola, Zimbabwe, Zambia, and Botswana signed an agreement creating the Kavango–Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (KaZa TFCA), a vast expanse of land designated primarily "'to establish a world-class transfrontier conservation area and tourism destination in the Okavango and Zambezi river-basin regions within the context of sustainable development", by linking different habitats and allowing animals the freedom of movement throughout this region of Africa.[4]

In addition, there is ongoing discussion between the governments of Namibia and Angola regarding the creation of a trans-border coastal park, formed from the concaternation of the Skeleton Coast National Park, and Angola's Iona National Park.[4]


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External links[edit]

  • Official website of the Republic of Namibia, Ministry of Environment & Tourism