Etosha National Park

Panoramic_Etosha

The Etosha National Park lies in northern Namibia on the south-west coast of Africa. Etosha means ‘place of dry water’ and it is a huge salt pan of about 5000 km² (1900 sq mls) which is the dominant feature of the park, taking up 23% of its total area. It was first recorded by Europeans in 1851. Beyond its perimeter is a diverse landscape of mainly savanna grasslands and woodlands dominated by acacia species. The area was proclaimed a game reserve in 1907 during the time when it was under German rule. It was elevated to the status of National Park in 1967 by the Republic of South Africa which by then administered South-West Africa.

In 1954 the local people, the Hai//om, were forcibly removed from the park, ending their hunter-gatherer lifestyle to become landless farm labourers. But since 2004 a Traditional Authority has been created whereby the government of Namibia acknowledges the park as the home of the Hai//om people and plans are in place to resettle displaced families on adjacent farmland.

The park is home to hundreds of species of mammal, birds and reptiles, including several threatened and endangered species such as the black rhinoceros. The numerous waterholes provide excellent viewing spots. Flamingos thrive on the blue-green algae that appears on the Etosha salt pan after the rare event of good rain.

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