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  • Writer's pictureMaddie Melton

Unveiling the Hidden Treasures of Etosha National Park

Etosha National Park’s diverse landscapes harbor some of the most elusive species across Africa. Fortunately, camera traps allow us to delve into the world of cryptic creatures and shed light on their hidden lives. Our remote cameras detected two very elusive species in Etosha: serval (Leptailurus serval) and Temmnick’s ground pangolin (Smutsia temminckii).

 

Servals are felid that occurs at low population densities across Africa. While they remain “Least Concern” on the IUCN Red List, their distribution throughout Namibia is not well known. A recent distribution and range extension map was proposed to encompass further west across Namibia (Stratford et al. 2016) based on current and historical sightings.


The IUCN serval distribution and the extension proposed by Stratford at al. in 2016.


In 2023, our camera traps confirmed the presence of a serval along the western boundary of Etosha, which is the most western edge of the proposed range map! There had been no confirmed direct observation of servals in that area until now. More recently at the end of January 2024, another camera recorded a serval deep inside Etosha, between Halali and Namutoni.





 Our 2 serval "captures" in Etosha!



Temmnick’s pangolins are a vulnerable species, with their population decreasing due to human-induced threats from poaching linked to the illegal international trade market. They are challenging to detect with camera traps and are usually seen on camera deployed at known burrow entrances. So, you can imagine our excitement when one of our cameras captured a pangolin in Etosha! We hope to continue to see them throughout our camera grid as evidence of their continued presence in a protected area. You can learn more about pangolins, specifically in Namibia, from the Pangolin Conservation and Research Foundation here.


A pangolin in Etosha!

 

Remote field cameras have proven instrumental in conservation efforts aimed at protecting cryptic species. By providing evidence of presence in remote areas, cameras have helped inform land management decisions, identify critical habitat, and prioritise conservation actions. As our camera grids are continuously running, we hope to share more cryptic species that we uncover in the future!

References

Stratford, K., Weise, F., Melzheimer, J., and Britz, N. (2016). Observations of servals in the highlands of central Namibia. IUCN Cat News. 64. 14-17.

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