The Brandberg area is blessed with, amongst others, free-roaming desert dwelling Black Rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis) and African Elephant (Loxodonta africana). We offer tours with very good chances of seeing these amazing behemoths.
There is a large diversity of fascinating plant and animal life in the region. Many species are endemic or restricted to the area.
The elusive and nocturnal Brandberg Gecko (Pachydactylus gaaiensis) is a medium-sized gecko only found on the Brandberg mountain and nowhere else in the world.
The magnificent Welwitschia mirabilis is a living fossil and some specimens are more than 2 000 years old. This conifer only has two opposite leaves which split over time, creating the idea that the plant has many leaves. The Welwitschia is in fact a tree with an underground trunk that can go down as far as 2 meters.
Several other plant and animal species are endemic or near-endemic to the region, such as the Brandbergia haringtoni, a scorpion that was named after the mountain.
Two of the most striking plants of the Brandberg Mountain are the Brandberg acacia (Acacia montis-usti) and the Brandberg euphorbia (Euphorbia monteiroi subsp. brandbergensis).
According to Maggs et al. more than 25 of the species recorded by Nordenstam for the Brandberg Mountain are probably the remains of an old arid flora, and have distributions among the arid areas of the Karoo-Namib region and the Saharan area of the Sudano-Zambezian region.
The most widely accepted explanation for present day distributions is that they are relicts from a previously continuous arid belt stretching across Africa from Somalia to Botswana, Namibia and South Africa.
The Namibian Savannah Woodland eco-region, especially the Brandberg, is also a centre of high faunal endemism and species richness.
The eco-region has a significantly larger number of Namibian endemic invertebrates, amphibians, reptiles, mammals and birds than adjacent eco-regions.
This distribution suggests relict populations were isolated, perhaps by low desert temperatures and mobile sands on the coastal plains, isolating rocky habitats and promoting speciation.
Further inland, oscillating patterns of regional rainfall and global temperature may have isolated species on rocky islands and inselbergs.
Endemic and near-endemic mammals comprise of mainly bats, rodents and small carnivores. The slender mongoose (Galerella swalius) and the rock mouse (Petromyscus shortridgei) are restricted to the Namaland escarpment. A further six species of small mammals and bats are also near-endemic to the eco-region, including the Angola wing-gland bat (Myotis seabrai, VU) and the bat Laephotis namibensis, EN.
The only large mammal endemic to this region is the mountain zebra (Equus zebra hartmannae, EN).
Among the larger mammals are desert-dwelling populations of elephant (Loxodonta africana, EN) and black rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis, CR). The black rhino population in this area is one of the few unfenced populations of black rhinos in the world, and it is estimated to number more than 100 rhinos.
Other large mammal species found within the eco-region are kudu (Tragelaphus strepsiceros LR), springbok (Antidorcas marsupialis LR), gemsbok (Oryx gazella LR), Damara dik-diks (Madoqua kirkii), and black-faced impala (Aepyceros melampus petersi VU). Predators include lion (Panthera leo), leopard (Panthera pardus), cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus VU), bat-eared fox, (Otocyon megalotis) and Cape fox (Vulpes chama).
Seven reptile species are strictly endemic to the eco-region. Albert’s burrowing skunk (Sepsina alberti) is a pale, green skink with a bright blue tail that is restricted to the northern area of the eco-region. You will also find Husaben sand lizard (Pedioplanis husabensis), Namaqua spinytail lizard (Cordylus namaquensis), Campbell’s spinytail lizard (Cordylus campbelli), Herero girdled lizard (Cordylus pustulatus), Brandberg thick-toed gecko, Albert’s skink, and Nama padloper (Homopus sp. nov).
Around 50 reptile species are either endemic or near-endemic reptiles in the eco-region. Of these, 83% occur on and around the Brandberg, suggesting relict populations. For example, the Brandberg thick-toed gecko (Pachydactylus gaiasensis) is restricted to the Brandberg. Only two amphibians are considered endemic to the eco-region, the Okahandja toad (Bufo hoeschi) and the Mossamedes toad (B. grandisonae).