Namibia information

Wildlife in Namibia - Cats and Dogs

Namibia's wildlife is a key reason why many visitors travel here, and below is a little information on Namibia's cats and dogs – concentrating on aspects that are specific to Namibia. Many of the comments are taken from the Bradt guide to Namibia written by Chris, one of the Expert Africa team.

Lion

Panthera leo Shoulder height 100–120cm. Weight 150–220kg.
Africa's largest predator, the lion is the animal that everybody hopes to see on safari. It is a sociable creature, living in prides of five to ten animals and defending a territory of between 20 and 200km².
In Namibia, lions are occasionally reported in the Kaokoveld or in the Central Highlands, but Etosha and the Caprivi's parks are the most reliable places to see them. Occasionally, they used to find their way down river valleys and take seals on the coast as prey. However, there are no reliable reports of this in recent years.

Leopard

Panthera pardus Shoulder height 70cm. Weight 60–80kg.
The powerful leopard is the most solitary and secretive of Africa's big cats. It hunts at night, using stealth and power, often getting to within 5m of its intended prey before pouncing.
Leopards are the most common of Africa's large felines, yet a good sighting in the wild is extremely unusual – in fact there are many records of individuals living for years undetected in close proximity to humans. They occur everywhere apart from the desert, though they favour habitats with plenty of cover, like riverine woodlands and rocky kopjes. Namibia's Central Highlands are perfect for leopard, which are common on the farms there. Some lodges, like Okonjima, encourage sightings by offering them food.

Cheetah

Acynonix jubatus Shoulder height 70–80cm. Weight 50–60kg.
This remarkable spotted cat has a greyhound-like build, and is capable of running at 70km per hour in bursts, making it the world's fastest land animal. A diurnal hunter, cheetah favour the cooler hours of the day to hunt smaller antelope, like steenbok and duiker, and small mammals like scrub hares.
Namibia probably has Africa's highest cheetah population – estimated at 25% of the world's population. This is largely due to the eradication of lion and spotted hyena from large areas of commercial farmland, where cheetah are not usually regarded (by enlightened farmers) as a threat to cattle. Etosha is Namibia's best park for cheetah in the wild, though there's probably a higher density of them on many farms.