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Etosha is Namibia’s prime national park, one of seven national parks in the country. A 22,750sqkm wildlife sanctuary in the country’s north, it encompasses a vast, shallow pan that attracts thousands of flamingos after heavy rains. There is also a network of perennial waterholes that draw large herds of game from the arid savannah grassland and thorn scrub. Etosha is home to 114 mammal species -- several of which are rare and endangered -- and 380 species of birds. The abundance of elephant at Etosha (about 2,300) means sightings here are almost guaranteed; the best place to spot them is at the permanent watering hole close to the Okaukuejo rest camp. The rare black-faced impala is often viewed here too, as are herds of Gemsbok, wildebeest, zebra, giraffe and rhino. Some species have become so abundant that Etosha now re-locates animals to other parts of Namibia.

African Wild Dog

African wild dogs are Namibia's most endangered mammal species. Distinctive for their mottled coats and large ears, these pack-living canines  are elusive and fast moving, ranging over an area of up to 3,000sqkm, and sometimes moving 50km in one day. The isolated northeast of the country is home to an estimated 300 to 600 wild dogs, but only five percent of that area is protected. Though sparsely populated, this part of Namibia is also home to pastoralists of Namibia’s Herero tribe, resulting in negative human-wildlife interaction as the dogs may attack livestock. NGO- and government-run loss mitigation and educational programs are working intensively in this area to protect the wild dog. New communal conservancies in the Otjozondjupa and Omaheke regions on Namibia’s north eastern border with Botswana, and also remote Khaudom National Park on the edge of the Kalahari Desert, may become one of the last strongholds of African wild dog – and judging by the success of the country’s national park- and community-based conservation efforts, the endangered wild dog may be coming back from the brink – in Namibia at least.

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© 2012 Lonely Planet. All rights reserved. The article ‘Caring for wildlife, Namibian-style’ was published in partnership with Lonely Planet.

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