Etosha National Park
IUCN category II (national park)
Dust Cloud in Etosha National Park.jpg
Animals at the Nebrownii waterhole
Map showing the location of Etosha National Park
Map showing the location of Etosha National Park
Map of show location in Namibia
Coordinates18°56′43″S 15°53′52″E / 18.94528°S 15.89778°E / -18.94528; 15.89778Coordinates: 18°56′43″S 15°53′52″E / 18.94528°S 15.89778°E / -18.94528; 15.89778
Area22,270 km2 (8,600 sq mi)
EstablishedMarch 22, 1907
Visitors200000 (in 2010)
Governing bodyMinistry of Environment and Tourism, Namibia

Etosha National Park is a national park in northwestern Namibia. It was proclaimed a game reserve in March 1907 in Ordinance 88 by the Governor of German South West Africa, Dr. Friedrich von Lindequist. It was designated as Wildschutzgebiet in 1958, and was elevated to the status of a national park in 1967 by an act of parliament of the Republic of South Africa.[1] It spans an area of 22,270 km2 (8,600 sq mi) and gets its name from the large Etosha pan which is almost entirely within the park. The Etosha pan (4,760 km2 (1,840 sq mi)) covers 23% of the total area of the National Park.[2] The park is home to hundreds of species of mammals, birds and reptiles, including several threatened and endangered species such as the black rhinoceros.

The park is located in the Kunene region[citation needed] and shares boundaries with the regions of Oshana, Oshikoto and Otjozondjupa.


Charles John (Karl Johan) Andersson

Discovery by Europeans

Explorers Charles John Andersson and Francis Galton were the first Europeans to record the existence of the Etosha pan on 29 May 1851.[1] The explorers were traveling with Ovambo copper ore traders when they arrived at Omutjamatunda (now known as Namutoni). The Etosha pan was discovered when they traveled north upon leaving Namutoni. The name Etosha (spelled Etotha in early literature) comes from Oshindonga word meaning "Great White Place" referring to the Etosha pan. The Hai//om called the pan Khubus which means "totally bare, white place with lots of dust". The pan is also known as Chums, which refers to the noise made by a person's feet when walking on the clay of the pan.


Areas north of the Etosha pan were inhabited by Ovambo people, while various Otjiherero-speaking groups lived immediately outside the current park boundaries. The areas inside the park close to the Etosha pan had Khoisan-speaking Hai//om people.

When the Etosha pan was first discovered, the Hai//om people recognized the Ovambo chief at Ondonga but the Hereros did not.[3] The Hai||om were forcibly removed from the park in the 1954, ending their hunter-gatherer lifestyle to become landless farm laborers.[4] The Hai||om have had a recognized Traditional Authority since 2004 which helps facilitate communications between the community and the government. The government of Namibia acknowledges the park to be the home of Hai||om people and has plans to resettle displaced families on farms adjacent to the national park. Since 2007 the Government has acquired six farms directly south of the Gobaub depression in Etosha National Park. A number of families have settled on these farms under the leadership of Chief David Khamuxab, Paramount Chief of the Hai||om.

European settlers

In 1885, entrepreneur William Worthington Jordan bought a huge tract of land from Ovambo chief Kambonde. The land spanned nearly 170 kilometres (110 mi) from Okaukuejo in the west to Fischer's Pan in the east. The price for the land was £300 sterling, paid for by 25 firearms, one salted horse and a cask of brandy.[3] Dorstland Trekkers first traveled through the park between 1876 and 1879 on their way to Angola. The trekkers returned in 1885 and settled on 2,500-hectare (6,200-acre) farms given to them at no charge by Jordan. The trekkers named the area Upingtonia after the Prime Minister of the Cape Colony. The settlement had to be abandoned in 1886 after clashes with the Hai||om[3] and defeat by Chief Nehale Mpingana.[5]

German South-West Africa

The German Reich ordered troops to occupy the Okaukuejo, Namutoni and Sesfontein in 1886 in order to kill migrating wildlife to stop spread of rinderpest to cattle. A fort was built by the German cavalry in 1889 at the site of the Namutoni spring. On 28 January 1904, 500 men under Nehale Mpingana attacked Imperial Germany's Schutztruppe at Fort Namutoni and completely destroyed it, driving out the colonial forces and taking over their horses and cattle.[5] The fort was rebuilt and troops stationed once again when the area was declared a game reserve in 1907; Lieutenant Adolf Fischer of Fort Namutoni then became its first "game warden".


Changing park boundaries 1907-1970

The present-day Etosha National Park has had many major and minor boundary changes since its inception in 1907. The major boundary changes since 1907 were because of Ordinance 18 of 1958 and Ordinance 21 of 1970.[1]

When the Etosha area was proclaimed as "Game Reserve 2" by Ordinance 88 of 1907, the park stretched from the mouths of the Kunene river and Hoarusib river on the Skeleton Coast to Namutoni in the east. The original area was estimated to be 99,526 square kilometres (38,427 sq mi), an estimate that has been corrected to about 80,000 square kilometres (31,000 sq mi).[1] Ordinance 18 of 1958 changed the western park boundaries to exclude the area between the Cunene river and the Hoarusib river and instead include the area between Hoanib river and Uchab river, thus reducing the park's area to 55,000 square kilometres (21,000 sq mi). The Odendaal Commission's (1963) decision resulted in the demarcation of the present-day park boundary in 1970.

Etosha Ecological Institute

The Etosha Ecological Institute was formally opened on 1 April 1974 by Adolf Brinkmann of the South-West African Administration.[1] The institute is responsible for all management-related research in the park. Classification of vegetation, population and ecological studies on wildebeest, elephants and lions, and studies on anthrax were among the first major topics to be investigated.[1] The EEI has collaborations with researchers from universities in Namibia, the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, South Africa, Australia, Norway and Israel.