In northern Namibia lies a great wildlife park that spans 22,300 square kilometres (8,610 square miles). Etosha is Namibia’s prime wilderness conservation area.
Much of the Etosha National Park is given over to the Etosha Pan, a huge salt pan that catches the water from three feeder rivers during the rainy season and transforms into a wide, shallow lake. This lake attracts large flocks of migratory flamingos, pelicans, and other water birds that will feed and breed here before the water evaporates. When the lake dries up, the earth cracks into hexagonal puzzle pieces, perfect for the large ostrich on which to make its nest as scavengers don’t venture onto the pan.
Moving away from the salty desert, open grassland and numerous watering holes support large populations of antelope and other grazers – notably black rhino and blue wildebeest – especially during the dry winter months. These prey animals attract predators both large and small – lion, leopard, cheetah, hyena, black-backed jackal and bat-eared foxes.
During summer, when rains renew the grasslands, the wildlife moves mostly west, away from the waterholes to graze on sweet, lush veld, and drink from temporary pools.
Etosha holds one of the largest, and perhaps the most stable, population of black rhino in the world, as well as elephant, gemsbok (oryx), eland, kudu and giraffe, and rare and unusual species like the black-faced impala, Hartmann’s mountain zebra and one of the smallest antelopes in the world, the Damara dik-dik.
The park also attracts a large selection of bird life, with more than 320 species recorded.