Species diversity, distribution and conservation of Namibian mammals

Namibia's extant mammal fauna of 250 species represents about 75% of the southern African region's species richness, 83% of generic richness and 98% of familial richness. Fourteen species are presently recognized as endemic (75% or more of the global population occurring within Namibian borders). These endemics occur in the Namib Desert, pro-Namib transition zone and adjoining escarpment, and are primarily rupicolous. The Namibian endemic mammal fauna is characterized by the monotypic Petromuridae, and the rodent genera Gerbillurus and Petromyscus. The distribution of smaller species has probably not changed significantly over the past 200 years, but species such as lion and plain zebra have undergone range reductions of 95% or more, and five species are listed as recently extinct. Approximately 50% of all Namibian mammal species are provisionally listed as 'secure'. However, due to patchy data, 94 species (38%) are classified as under possible or probable threat. Nineteen species (8%) are classified as under definite threat. Over 13% of Namibia is set aside by the state for conservation purposes. Ninety-five percent of mammal species occur in at least one park, over 80% occur in three or more parks, and 59 species (28%) occur in ten or more parks, although for most species nothing is known of their population viability there. Major threats to mammals in Namibia are invasive aliens, including the risk of genetic pollution, and habitat alteration, especially wetland degradation.

Last Updated
January 27, 2021
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