The southern African country of Namibia is perhaps best known for its wildlife, along with its wide open spaces and stunning scenery.

But what not a lot of travellers realise is that Namibia has worked incredibly hard to protect and nourish its animal populations over the years. In fact, it’s one of the most dedicated countries in Africa when it comes to conservation efforts.

Today, more than 43% of Namibia is under active conservation management, including national parks, private nature reserves and forests.

How Namibia empowered communities to manage wildlife sustainably

Ready for a quick history lesson? It all started back in 1998, just a few years after Namibia gained independence from South Africa. Thanks to the efforts of visionary conservationists within the Ministry of Environment and Tourism, the country became the first in Africa to enshrine environmental protections into its constitution. 

One of the most important things the Namibian government did was to encourage local communities to benefit from protecting wildlife. They registered community conservancies, run by local people. The aims were to encourage the sustainable use of natural resources, help people to live alongside wildlife and embrace it as a complimentary use of land to livestock herding and agriculture. It’s estimated that today, one in four local people are involved in a community conservancy in some way.

And it worked, as Namibia’s remarkable and award-winning conservation efforts have led to achievements including:

  • The doubling of the country’s elephant population to more than 16,000 (by 2008)
  • The country boasting the largest free-roaming black rhino population anywhere in the world
  • Community-based natural resource management generating over N$ 42 million to rural Namibian people (in 2009)

The fascinating and diverse species you can see in Namibia

In Namibia, wildlife conservation is not only vital for the country’s eco-system. It’s also good for its economy, with tourists from all over the world flocking to visit its national parks, Etosha Safari and jaw-dropping Fish River Canyon.

For travellers who are conscious about the impact of tourism on wildlife and natural habitats, a trip to Namibia is more than just eye-opening. It’s exciting to see responsible tourism in action, especially in relation to magnificent wildlife species.

So, what can you expect to see on an unforgettable trip to Namibia? Across its 26 national parks and game reserves, including the famous Etosha National Park, you can spot more than 100 species of mammal. Highlights include elephants, giraffe, wildebeest and zebra, along with previously threatened species such as cheetah, lion and the elusive leopard. And of course, black and white rhinos, which may have disappeared altogether if it wasn’t for Namibia’s commitment to conservation.

Endemic species in Namibia (which you’ll find nowhere else in the world) include the black-faced impala, plus several fascinating creatures in the Namib desert.

The full list of species in this southern African gem is too long to include in full, but make sure you add these to your ‘must-see’ list:

  • African wild dogs
  • Oryx
  • Damara dik-dik
  • Namibian wild horses
  • Spotted and brown hyena
  • Cape fox
  • African clawless otter.

For a memorable wildlife experience that treads as lightly as possible in the natural environment, and benefits rather than harms local communities, plan a tailored Namibian adventure with Blank Canvas.

We’re dedicated to responsible tourism, so you can trust our travel experts to plan an incredible trip that fits with your values.