Everybody loves a cat, and large feline species make up some of the most sought-after sightings in Etosha National Park. However, hunters come in many shapes and sizes in the Namibian wilderness and these are some of the four-legged predators you can expect to see while visiting this iconic game reserve.
King of Cats
While lion sightings are top of the list to most of Africa’s safari-goers, these creatures are not always the most entertaining animals to watch. Lions spend most of their time sleeping in the shade, but when they do get going they certainly make up for it. A lion kill is a thrilling sight indeed with the full power of these mighty creatures on display, and to gaze into the eyes of even a sedentary lion is enough to get the heart racing.
The lions of Etosha are of great importance conservation-wise as they are one of few populations worldwide which are free of Feline Immuno Deficiency Virus, which poses a threat to lions all over the continent.
Within the confines of Etosha National Park, the King of Beasts is quite widespread and known to hold court around the Okondeka, Aus, Rietfontein, Goas, Kalkheuwel, Groot Okevi and Klein Okevi.
The most Secretive Big Cat
Leopards are secretive nocturnal creatures, but a trip to Moringa, Stark’s Pan, Rietfontein, Goas, Nuamses and Kalkheuwel in Etosha may yield a lucky daytime sighting. Those who wait patiently at one of Etosha’s floodlit waterholes are often rewarded when these elusive animals come to drink before embarking on a night time hunt. During daylight hours, leopard are usually seen lying up in the branches of trees, sometimes with the remains of a previous kill, which they will drag up out of the reach of scavengers and other predators.
The World’s Fastest Cat
Often confused with leopard, cheetah are most easily recognised by the black stripes running from their eyes along on either side of their noses and their smaller size. These elegant animals are quite at home on the vast plains of Etosha at Leeubron, Gemsbokvlakte, Charitsaub Plain, and to the east and west of the Halali plains, where they can enjoy the benefits of their record-breaking speed in pursuit of springbok and red hartebeest. They make use of large termite mounds to survey the land for their next meal, and are often seen perched on top of these sandy bumps on the Fisher’s pan detour en-route to Twee Palms and Aroe, especially in the early morning and late evening.
Cunning and Resourceful Cats
Black-backed jackal are commonly seen on the turn off towards Leeubron and the road between Wolfsnes and Okondeka. While they are capable of hunting their own birds, reptiles and small mammals, jackal prefer to reap the rewards of other predators’ labours and can be a nuisance around the rest camps, where they raid bins in search of scraps.
The African Wild Cat
Similar to its domestic counterpart in appearance, apart from its longer legs and pale ear patches, the African wild cat has a preference for spending time on the ground. Due to their size they are often overlooked at waterholes where they lie in wait for birds, rodents and very small antelope, and few sightings of African wild cat are reported in Etosha.
The Common Spotted Cat
Guests at Okaukejo Rest Camp often have the privilege of sighting small spotted genet around camp in the evenings, although their natural habitat is among dry woodlands and riverine habitats. They are fairly common residents but rarely seen on game drives due to their nocturnal habits and small size.
Plan a trip to Etosha National Park for one of Africa’s greatest displays of predators in their natural environment, we will be happy to assist with all your arrangements from the time you arrive at your Windhoek overnight accommodation.