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Group Of Zebras Walking In A Mist In The Plains Of Etosha National Park.

Etosha National Park Animals

Thanks to dry winters and watering holes throughout, Etosha National Park offers some spectacular game viewing opportunities. Among the animals found in the park, safari-goers will see lions and elephants, and perhaps even an elusive leopard or two. Home to over one hundred mammals, discover which creatures you'll spot in the wilderness of Etosha National Park.

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Etosha Big Five

If your primary purpose for going on a safari is to see the majestic Big Five, Etosha National Park is a great choice, as four of the Big Five are present. Only the buffalo is absent, while lions and elephants are very commonly spotted. By nature, leopards are elusive, and Etosha is one of the few African national parks that have a rhino population (but be aware the chance of spotting one is rare).

  • Lion

    The lions of Etosha are especially important to conservation as they do not carry Feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) which threatens much of Africa's lion population. As a result, many national parks in South Africa are now home to healthy lions. When lions aren't hunting down a bite to eat or exploring the open plains, you'll find them lazing in tall grasses enjoying a spot of shade with their pride.

    Best time to spot: Dry season
    Chances to spot: Medium
  • Elephant

    Etosha is home to large herds of elephants, and if you've always hoped to come face to face with one of these exquisite creatures, there are plenty of opportunities for that to happen in this national park. Elephants are active during the day and at night and are often sighted cooling themselves down or slathering themselves in mud at Olifantsbad, Aus, Tscumcor and Kalkheuwel.

    Best time to spot: Dry season
    Chances to spot: High
  • Leopard

    Of all the Big Five animals, leopards are the most elusive, and sightings are rare but not impossible. If you're determined to see this big cat in the wild, then head to one of Etosha's floodlit watering holes at night, because that's when this nocturnal animal comes out to play before going off into the darkness for a hunt. During the day, leopards perch themselves on a tree branch, from where they can look out across the open plains.

    Best time to spot: All year round
    Chances to spot: Rare
  • White rhino

    At one time, the white rhino had disappeared from Etosha altogether and was reintroduced from Kruger National Park in 1995. The recovered population inhabits the areas surrounding Namutoni rest camp on the edge of Etosha pan in the Oshikoto Region. While sightings are rare, when they have been seen, they have been spotted all over the park. White rhinos like to make their way to the floodlit watering holes for a drink at night.

    Best time to spot: All year round
    Chances to spot: Very low
  • Black rhino

    Because of the devastating poaching black rhinos have suffered, this animal is an incredibly endangered species. Thanks to Etosha's conservation efforts, the national park has a stable population, but the actual number of black rhinos is not disclosed in a bid to keep them from being harmed. During the day, rhinos rest in thickets and do not like to show themselves. Like white rhinos, they make their way to floodlit waterbodies at night, and visitors waiting patiently nearby have the best chance of spotting this rarely seen creature.

    Best time to spot: All year round
    Chances to spot: Low

Other animals

Etosha National Park offers the chance to see more than just Big Five, and while lions, leopards and elephants are a huge draw. Observing any one of these beasts moving across the open plains will take your breath away just as easily.

  • Blue wildebeest

    Unlike black wildebeest, this variation of the species has a greyer coat and black mane, and their horns curve outwards and upwards. Blue wildebeest love to eat and drink and gravitate to spots with water and places to graze. The most common sightings of them occur in grasslands. When the sun is at its peak, wildebeest take refuge in the shade, taking advantage of morning and late afternoon to replenish their energy.

    Best time to spot: All year round
    Chances to spot: High
  • Zebra

    Etosha National Park has two species of zebra, the Hartmann's zebra inhabit the rolling hills of Western Etosha and the Burchell's zebra can be found all over the park. They are distinguished from one another by their different coats. Zebras are found in abundance in Africa, especially over Namibia, where they can munch on grasslands with their family. To see them in large herds surrounded by springbok, gemsbok and wildebeest, head to one of the waterbodies early in the morning or late afternoon.

    Best time to spot: All year round
    Chances to spot: High
  • Damara dik-dik

    The adorable little dik-dik is one of the smallest antelopes and rarely grows over 39 centimetres (15 inches). Their favourite haunt is the woodlands east of Namutoni. To see this darling antelope in the wild, look under trees and shrubs, as that's where you're most likely to spot one. They're tame, so expect them to hang around with you for a few minutes before moving on. 

    Best time to spot: All year round
    Chances to spot: High
  • Giraffe

    Lions, leopards and elephants aside, if there's one creature that can fascinate and delight, it's the giraffe. They can be seen browsing throughout Etosha National Park, and in fact, it's one of the best places to spot these gangly creatures and one of the highlights of going on a safari here. They like to wander through acacia trees, and the road between Namuton and Klein Namutoni is one of their stomping grounds.

    Best time to spot: All year round
    Chances to spot: High
  • Springbok

    Springboks are one of the most common antelopes found in Namibia and can be seen almost everywhere in Etosha National Park. They can be spotted close to waterbodies alongside wildebeest and zebras, a spectacle that's sure to delight anyone lucky enough to see all these creatures in the wild. Springboks can reach incredible speeds of 90 kilometres (55 miles) per hour.

    Best time to spot: All year round
    Chances to spot: High
  • Red hartebeest

    Red hartebeest is a type of antelope frequently spotted in these parts of Africa. They have exciting mating habits: males will showcase themselves proudly by standing on top of a pile of earth, after locating a desirable female counterpart, the male hartebeest follows her continually until she is wooed. The best place to spot them is usually from Ombika towards Springbokfontein.

    Best time to spot: All year round
    Chances to spot: High

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