Namib-Karoo-Kaokeveld Deserts

About the Area

This Global ecoregion is made up of these terrestrial ecoregions: Succulent Karoo; Namib desert; Nama Karoo; Namibian savanna woodlands; Kaokoveld desert.
The Namib-Karoo-Kaokeveld deserts are a very distinctive and floristically rich desert ecoregion of Africa, with highly diverse endemic plant communities. Together they contain 3,500 species of plants, about half of which are endemic.

Local Species

Species include the primitive plant Welwitschia (Welwitschia mirabilis), and an extraordinary diversity of succulent plant species including the illegally traded Kokerboom (Aloe dichotoma), and Halfmens (Pachypodium namaquanum) - that is known to wait in a dormant state until a storm, whereupon it extends a root within the first 24 hours.

Among the mammals found here are Mountain zebra (Equus zebra), Short-eared elephant shrew (Macroscelides proboscideus), and Desert golden mole (Eremitalpa granti).

Bird species include Karoo bustard (Eupodotis vigorsii), Ludwig's bustard (Neotis ludwigii), Karoo chat (Cercomela schlegelii), Dune lark (Certhilauda erythrochlamys), and Dusky sunbird (Nectarinia fusca).

Reptiles such as Dwarf chameleon (Bradypodion karrooicum), Rough thick-toed gecko (Pachydactylus rugosus), Karoo sand snake (Psammophis notostictus), Coral snake (Aspidelaps lubricus), and Péringuey's adder (Bitis peringueyi) also call this ecoregion home.

Amphibians include Namaqua caco (Cacosternum namaquense) and Desert rain frog (Breviceps macrops).

Threats

Poor land management, conversion of marginal lands for cultivation, animal ranching, unsustainable groundwater extraction, alteration of surface/subsurface flow, dam construction, mining, and illegal extraction of selected succulents for black market trade, all pose a suite of threats to the biodiversity of this ecoregion.

Resources

 / ©: Martin Harvey / WWF-Canon
Goegab Nature Reserve Wild flowers and Quiver tree (Aloe dichotomia), Western Cape, Republic of South Africa.
© Martin Harvey / WWF-Canon

Size:
806,000 sq. km (311,000 sq. miles)

Habitat type:
Deserts and Xeric Shrublands

Geographic Location:
Southern Africa: Angola, Namibia, and South Africa

Conservation Status:
Vulnerable

 / ©: NASA / Wikipedia User: Pfly
The yellow line encloses the two Karoo ecoregions of southern Africa. The green line separates the Succulent Karoo, on the west, from the Nama Karoo, on the east.
© NASA / Wikipedia User: Pfly
  • Quiz Time!

    How has the Welwitschia so remarkably adapted to life in dry southwestern African deserts?

    Answer:
    The survival strategy of the Welwitschia mirabilis clearly is successful as some plants are thought to be 2,000 years old! It includes a deep root and a pair of long undulating leaves that extend outward 10 feet (3 m) and collect moisture from fog. These features allow the plant to survive in sandy soils without much water.

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