Bordering South Africa, Botswana, Angola, Zambia, and the Atlantic Ocean, Namibia is a large and sparsely populated country. Its most notable geographic feature is the Namib Desert. One of the greatest environmental threats to the interior of the southern African nation of Namibia is increasing desertification caused by climate change. This negatively affects agriculture, causing water and food shortages for both humans and animals.
Ai-Ais Hot Springs and Fish River Canyon
The Fish River Canyon is located in the south-central region of Namibia, close to the border with South Africa. This canyon runs approximately 100 miles in length and is as deep as 1,804 feet in some places, making this the longest canyon in Africa. The park covers a total area of 6,045 square miles, shared with South Africa. Only 2,334 square miles are located in Namibia. The water here, in an otherwise dry environment, attracts Klipspringer Antelopes, Hyraxes, and Hartmann’s Mountain Zebras. The Fish River Canyon and the Ai-Ais Hot Springs Resort, located along the lower stretch of the river, are the second most popular tourist attraction in the country. Visitors to this park can see some of the oldest rock paintings in the world, some are over 25,000 years old. The most popular hiking trail in the country is located here as well. The hike takes around 5 days and hikers can enjoy the hot springs when they finish.
Bwabwata National Park
In the northeastern strip of Namibia, situated along the borders with Angola and Botswana, lies Bwabwata National Park, a 2,422 square mile-area. This national park is an important location along the migratory path for African elephants. During the 1960’s, this park was first protected as the Caprivi Nature Park before becoming a game park a few years later. While fighting for independence in the 1980’s, the military of Namibia took control of this region. After independence, in 1990, the government funded a biodiversity study of Caprivi in order to develop conservation plans. In 2007, it was merged with the Mahango Game Reserve and additional land along the Kwando River to become the Bwabwata National Park. This park is located within the tree and shrub savannah biome and is home to several plant species, including the Zambezi teak, false mopane, jackalberry, and camelthorn tree. These trees provide shelter and food for a number of animals, such as the African buffalo, spotted hyena, hippopotamus, African skimmer bird, wood owl, and Bennett’s woodpecker. Tourists may go camping or stay in the lodge, go on safari, or take boat tours.
Cape Cross Seal Reserve
The Cape Cross Seal Reserve is located along the north-central Atlantic coast of Namibia. This site is important for both historic and environmental reasons. In 1486, a Portuguese explorer landed here and placed a stone cross, marking the land for Portugal. Later, during the 1800’s, it was exploited for guano and Cape fur seals. Today, this reserve is home to one of the largest Cape fur seal colonies in the world. This animal can only be found along the southwestern African coastline and on the coasts of some Australian and Tasmanian islands. Visitors to Cape Cross Seal Reserve can follow an informational trail while viewing the large number of seals.
Other national parks in Namibia can be found listed in the chart below.
Environmental Threats and Conservation Efforts
Widespread droughts in Namibia leads to water scarcity in the short term, and also leads to desertification of the few green areas left in this country in the long term. Other environmental threats include development of urban areas, land degradation for agricultural purposes, and mining activities. The government does, however, address these concerns through wildlife conservancies which promote sustainable use of natural resources, conservation of wildlife, and maintenance of ecosystems. They work together with several international nonprofits to achieve these goals.