Namibia’s wildlife areas take on an extra special quality in the summer months… Martin Benadie recently spent a few weeks in Namibia where he guided guests on a birding safari. From desert-adapted elephants at Damaraland Camp to the abundance of wildlife seen at water pans in Etosha, this trip proved to be very rewarding both for birding and wildlife sightings.
Namibia’s desert-dwelling elephants are not a separate species from their savannah counterparts. They are unique however in having adapted to existing in a much drier environment of north-western Namibia and mostly move along the ephemeral river systems of the Kunene Region.
They have adjusted to their arid habitat by having a smaller body mass with proportionally longer legs and seemingly larger feet than savannah elephants. They survive by eating vegetation found in the ephemeral riverbeds and are able to go many days without drinking water. Sometimes they travel long distances to reach a water source. Family units are smaller than average, thereby decreasing pressure on food and water resources. Researchers have noted that they impact fewer trees than elephants living in higher rainfall areas in other parts of Africa.
There are only two populations of desert-adapted elephant in the world. The other is found in Mali, North Africa.
Etosha National Park
Namibia’s Etosha National Park is well known for those dramatic images of wildlife that concentrate around the network of waterholes and artesian springs dotted around the pan edge. Grazing and water availability is under strain throughout the Park at this time.
Visiting in the summer rainy season is very different though. These water points can be mostly deserted of visiting game. We still had an incredible time however. The Park was lush and green, the summer skies were amazing, many game species were dropping their young and wildlife was still seen in very good numbers. Grazing and food was available in abundance...
Written and Photographed by Martin Benadie