Etosha National Park is one of Africa’s largest and most popular wildlife destinations. Stretching over nearly two thousand square miles in northern Namibia, the park is mainly semi-desert terrain interspersed with salt pans and waterholes.
Read on to see which exciting animals you can spot on your Namibian safari adventure.
Mammals in Etosha National Park
Etosha National Park is home to an estimated hundred and fourteen mammal species. Various conservation initiatives are active in the park, including a black rhino sanctuary and a protected lion camp. As a result, numerous endangered animals have found a haven in the habitats provided throughout Etosha.
The Black-faced Impala
The endangered Black-faced Impala is one of Etosha’s most significant conservation success stories. An estimated three thousand of them remain in the wild, with more than half living in the park.
There are various species of impalas in Etosha. The black-faced impala is easily identifiable by the dark markings under its eyes and across the nose. They also have a significantly longer tail than the common impala.
You can spot these animals grazing along the Ombika waterhole in the southeastern area of the park.
The Spotted Hyena
The Spotted Hyena is the largest of the four hyena species in Sub-Saharan Africa. They have large heads, strong necks and immensely powerful jaws that can easily bite through bones.
Etosha’s semi-desert terrain is the perfect hunting and scavenging grounds for the spotted hyena. Large groups of between sixty and eighty are often seen roaming around waterholes looking for carcasses left behind by other predators.
The Cape Pangolin
Of the eight different pangolin species worldwide, the Cape Pangolin is the only one that lives in dry, arid environments like Namibia. These fascinating animals are the only mammals covered in scales. They also have a long snout to lap up termites and insects.
The numbers of these scaly creatures have decreased dramatically worldwide due to illegal trafficking. Luckily, Etosha has a conservation initiative to protect the species and provide a safe haven from poachers.
The Chacma Baboon
The chacma baboon is a well-known species in and around Etosha National Park. These aggressive primates have large canine teeth that grow up to two inches long. This aids them in biting through plant materials such as thick roots and bulbs. They also eat insects and eggs left unguarded by birds and reptiles.
They are often found around the various waterholes in Etosha and travel in large troops of between fifty and a hundred. They are a common and unmissable sight for adventurers on a safari through Namibia.
The Dwarf Mongoose
As the name suggests, the dwarf mongoose is the smallest mongoose species. They only grow as large as eight inches in length and weigh less than one pound. These curious little creatures have soft, glossy brown fur, pointed faces, and small ears.
They are social animals who travel in packs of up to thirty. These packs favor dry, open spaces with termite nests that they can use as shelter. The savannas in the northern parts of Etosha provide the perfect habitat filled with insects for the dwarf mongooses to eat.
Birds in Etosha National Park
Avid birdwatchers are in for a treat at Etosha with over three hundred bird species to observe.
The Cape Teal Duck
The Etosha Salt Pan in the park’s central area is heavily populated by a variety of water birds. Among the most common is the Cape teal duck, easily identifiable by its pink beaks and spotted plumage.
Compared to other species of ducks, they are relatively small at fourteen inches in length and weigh between eleven and eighteen pounds. These birds are non-migratory and can be seen paddling around the shallow parts of the saltpans in Etosha throughout the year.
The African Gray Hornbill
The African gray hornbill is endemic to sub-Saharan Africa, and Etosha has a large population of these birds. With their dark brown and gray plumage they can be identified by the white lines down the sides of the head.
They grow up to 20 inches tall, and males and females look similar in color and size. These birds can be observed foraging for fruit and insects in trees all around the park and favor thorny trees for perching.
The Pied Kingfisher
The pied kingfisher is another common sighting around the Etosha pan. They have black and white plumage and are easily identified by their dagger-like bill.
This species of kingfisher is the largest that hunts by hovering over the water and diving headfirst into the water at high speeds.
The Marabou Stork
The Marabou stork is one of the larger birds in the stork family. Their wingspan reaches around nine and a half feet and they can weigh up to seventeen pounds.
What sets the Marabou apart from other storks is the red pouch on the neck of the males. During the breeding season in May and June, males inflate the air sack in an attempt to attract a female to mate with for life. This phenomenon can be seen on the banks of the Etosha Salt Pan.
The Greater Kestrel
The Greater Kestrel is one of the larger birds of prey that can be spotted at Etosha. They can be identified by the fine black streaks on their wings. Their wingspan can reach up to thirty-three inches.
You’ll often see them perched on high vantage points, such as the tops of trees. These birds have excellent eyesight and can spot prey as small as a dung beetle from more than one hundred and fifty feet away. They also prey on smaller birds, lizards and rodents.
Reptiles in Etosha National Park
Etosha National Park is home to a hundred and ten documented reptile species. Read on to explore some of the reptiles you can expect to see on a safari.
The Cape Dwarf Chameleon
The Cape Dwarf Chameleon is widespread across Etosha, and a keen eye can spot them among the reeds around the park’s many waterholes.
These tiny chameleons only grow up to two inches. However, their tongues are almost twice the length of their bodies, allowing them to catch insects from a distance.
The Spotted Bush Snake
The Spotted Bush Snake is a non-venomous snake identified by its green color and black spots. They grow up to forty inches in length and are of slender build with a flat head.
These active and curious snakes prey on small lizards and frogs. Although they are harmless to humans, these snakes are often mistaken for one of the venomous species in the park, such as the feared boomslang.
The Helmeted Turtle
Among the smaller turtle species, most helmeted turtles grow only eight inches in length. Males can be distinguished from females by their longer and thicker tails.
These turtles favor the marshes on the banks of the Etosha Pan. They are omnivorous and are known to catch smaller birds, such as pigeons, with their claws. Their prey gets dragged underwater to drown, and all food is consumed underwater.
The Namib Rock Agama
As the name suggests, these colorful lizards are endemic to Namibia. Easily identified by their orange heads and tails, the Namib Rock Agama is plentiful in Etosha.
They lounge in the sun in the rocky areas across the park, preying primarily on ants and termites.
The Giant African Bullfrog
The giant African bullfrog is abundant across Namibia and is identified by its olive green color and large mouths. The loud bellows of these bullfrogs are an unmissable sound close to the water sources in Etosha.
These bullfrogs live up to their name – males can grow up to ten inches in length and weigh up to three pounds.
Other Frequently Asked Questions about Etosha National Park
Namibia’s scenic desert landscape has more than just wildlife on offer. Read on for more information about the park.
What Makes Etosha National Park Unique?
Rich in minerals, Etosha National Park is known for its many large salt pans. The iconic Etosha Pan is so impressive that it was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
How Many Animals Are in Etosha National Park?
The park is famous for its wildlife. You can expect to see nearly six hundred animal species on an Etosha National Park safari through the park.
Which of the Big 5 Game Animals Can be Seen at Etosha National Park?
If you are going on a safari with the primary purpose of spotting the Big Five, Etosha is a great destination. Four of the Big Five animals are abundant in the park, with the buffalo being absent. You can spot lions, leopards, elephants, and rhinos around one of the park’s many waterholes and salt pans.