The early days of NamibRand Nature Reserve saw nearly no game, but as the habitat recovered, wildlife population numbers also stabilized and seasonal wildlife migratory routes have been reestablished. From less than a 1000 springbok, the population has climbed to over 11 000 in less than two decades. The Reserve now operates at carrying capacity for most non-migratory species.
The predominant large mammals on the Reserve are oryx Oryx Gazella and springbok Antidorcas Marsupialis. Other large mammals include kudu, Hartman's and Burchell's zebra, giraffe, klipspringer, steenbok, hartebeest and baboon. Predators include leopard, spotted and brown hyena, black-backed jackal, aardwolf, bat-eared fox, Cape fox, African wildcat, caracal and genet. To date around 170 bird species have been identified, including Namibia’s only true endemic, the Dune Lark. The dunes harbour a rich and diverse micro-fauna and work is still in progress on the inventory of rodents, reptiles, amphibians and invertebrates.
The Reserve’s environmental management approach is one of minimal interference and constant monitoring. Species-specific conservation initiatives are undertaken in partnership with relevant specialist organizations. Endangered and historically indigenous species such as cheetah have been reintroduced with the help of the Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) and Naankuse Foundation. A total of 21 cheetahs and 2 leopards have successfully been released on the Reserve. Giraffe and red hartebeest have also been successfully reintroduced and their numbers now constitute a healthy population. The Reserve hosts a vulture ‘restaurant’ and hide, where the endangered lapped-faced vultures are provided with poison-free carcasses. This enables researchers to study them with more rigour. The Reserve is furthermore a safe haven for the endangered Ludwig’s bustard, a large terrestrial bird species. Their current population is estimated at 140 birds.