About the Area - Namibia 823,679 km²

Scenic shot, Namibia. rel=
Scenic shot, Namibia.
© WWF-Canon / Joanna Benn

40 emerging conservancies covering 80,000km² (of which 78,000km² encompassed by the existing 31)

Namibia's dramatic red rock plains and rocky mountains are a harsh environment where little, but thorny bushes and acacias thrive. However, this merciless arid landscape is home to a wide range of African wildlife like kudu, Oryx, springbok, mountain zebra, leopard, cheetah, lion, ostrich, giraffe, rhinoceros, and the unique desert elephant.
It's also home to 1.8 million people, including Bushmen tribes that have lived off the land for generations, numerous indigenous groups and newcomers to the area from other parts of southern Africa.

Click Languages
Many Namibians speak multiple languages, including English, German (Namibia was once a Germany colony) and one or more "click languages." These ancient African languages may be among the oldest languages in the world and incorporate clicking sounds made with the tongue on the roof of the mouth to form different sounds.

The name of one conservancy in Namibia that WWF works with - ≠Khoadi //Hoas - means "elephant corner" in the Khoekhoegowab language. The ≠ symbolizes one click sound and // symbolizes another.

Listen to the click language (.wav, 1.55 MB).

Species - Desert Elephants

Desert elephant herd on Torra Conservancy land / ©: WWF-Canon / Jan Vertefeuille
Desert elephant herd on Torra Conservancy land
© WWF-Canon / Jan Vertefeuille
Namibia is home to a unique population of "desert elephants," which have adapted to an arid climate. They can go for days without drinking water, surviving on moisture obtained from the vegetation they eat.
Desert elephants are not a different species or subspecies than other African elephants, but they appear to have adapted to their environment with larger feet, making it easier to walk through sand. They have smaller bodies than other elephants and often live in smaller herds than other elephants, which puts less pressure on their food and water sources.

Desert elephants are mostly found in the Damaraland region of Namibia, in the northwest part of the country, where they spend time foraging in the riverbeds that flow for only part of the year there.
Bob Guibeb of the Khoadi Hoas Conservancy surveys damage to a container that collects rainwater for ... rel=
Bob Guibeb of the Khoadi Hoas Conservancy surveys damage to a container that collects rainwater for a local farms use. A bull elephant the night before ripped apart the thick plastic container to get to the water, which is in short supply in the Namib Desert.
© WWF-Canon / Jan Vertefeuille

Threats

To promote economic development, it is necessary, among other strategies, to develop alternative land uses in marginal areas. A key component of the environment and development challenge is the region's natural resources, including wildlife, flora, and ecosystems, which exist in marginal generally communally-managed areas.
Humans vs. elephants
Conflict between people and elephants exists everywhere that the two species have to compete for resources. In heavily populated areas of Asia and Africa, the conflict is usually over land and crops. In the Namibian desert, with few people and lots of land, the competition is for the one thing that is scarce: water.

Thirsty elephants will tear down windmills operating water pumps, knock down concrete walls and rip apart heavy-duty water barrels in an effort to quench their thirst. They drink the water out of generator engines, causing the engines to overheat and blow. They rip the pipes out of the ground when they can smell water there. Mothers knock down fences around water points that are too tall for their calves to step over.

"The thirsty elephants with small calves cause most of the problems," Guibeb says. "What they are doing are pushing down fences because small elephants cannot get over them. At water points, pipes are pulled out and sometimes they come to houses of people looking for water. Those are the main problems. People have been frightening the elephants away but then they give the problem to another community."

Find out what WWF is doing to resolve the problem

Back to top

Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required