While visiting the Bwabwata National Park you are sharing space with some of the biggest wildlife Africa has to offer. Large mammalian predators include leopard, cheetah, lion, hyaena and African wild dog.
African wild dogs, or ‘painted dogs’, are the most endangered large carnivores in Africa, with continental populations estimated to be only 3 000 to 4 000, down from an original population of half a million, due to persecution by farmers and other competitors. Lions kill wild dogs whenever they can. Superbly adapted to hunting (80% of hunts result in a kill), they specialise in pursuing prey relentlessly over long distances. They have the strongest bite measured against body mass of any carnivorous mammal. Interestingly, males often act as babysitters. Wild-dog numbers are increasing in the Bwabwata National Park.
Lion populations are low. The Namibian Ministry of Environment and Tourism and the local resident’s association hope to improve numbers by adding value through an increase in tourism and trophy hunting value so that lo- cal people have an incentive to not only tolerate, but also to protect lions. While not many people want more lions next door, here they do!
Extremely large crocodiles patrol the rivers. More dangerous to man, however, are the hippos that live in the Okavango and Kwando rivers. Territorial and aggressive, hippos kill more people in Africa each year than any other large wild mammal species. Never come between a grazing hippo and the water.
African elephants, the world’s largest land mammal, need no introduction. Extremely abundant in the Kavango and the Caprivi, which they use as a migration corridor between Angola, Botswana and Zambia, they visit the rivers of the Bwabwata National Park in large numbers during the dry season. The park also serves as a corridor for many other migrating animals moving between Botswana, Zambia and Angola.
The Bwabwata National Park is the best place in Namibia to see Cape buffalo (thereby filling your Big Five tick list!). The Buffalo Core Area conserves a large buffalo population that, with the exception of the buffalo on the Waterberg Plateau and the population near Khaudum National Park, is unique in the country. The buffalo are normally followed by an entourage of red and yellow-billed oxpeckers and egrets that feed on the parasites and insects that are attracted to the herds.
Roan and the majestically horned sable are the highest-value antelope species in the Bwabwata National Park, due to their rarity elsewhere. Kudu and impala occur in high numbers in the conservation core areas. Riverine habitat and floodplains support red lechwe, sitatunga and reedbuck.
Birds include Wattled Crane, African Skimmer, Western- banded Snake Eagle, Narina Trogon, Wood Owl, Pel’s Fishing Owl, Cape Parrot, and both Red-billed and Yellow-billed Oxpeckers.