Game counts and estimates

Two methods are used to assess game numbers in the landscape:

1. Game Counts

Game counts are carried out regularly to assess population sizes, distributions and status. Game counts were initiated in NamibRand Nature Reserve in 2005 and extended in 2009 to include the Pro-Namib Conservancy. For the purposes of the count, the total area is divided into game count zones, each with its own standardised route/s. 


Between 2009 and 2011 there were 9 game count  zones all of which were counted as part of the NamibRand Nature Reserve (NRN01 - NRN09). Exclesior was included as NRNR09 although it is not part of the reserve. Each zone had one game count route. In 2012, an additional zone was added to the south (NRN10), also with one game count route. In 2015, 9 new zones were added: Kulala Wilderness Reserve (2 routes), MET (3), Namib Desert Lodge (3), Neuhof (2), Neuras (2), Solitaire (3), Sossusvlei Lodge (2), Tsondab River (3), Weltevrede (1) bringing the total number of zones to 19 and routes to 31.

» See a map of the zones.


In addition, the landscape has been zoned according to habitat. Four habitats have been defined: dune and sandy plain; sand and gravel interface; gravel plain; inselberg/mountain.

» See a map of the habitats.


The basic survey methodology used is a road count using a combination of the DISTANCE and the Strip-Count census techniques. The method was refined in 2015. In layman’s terms, these can be explained as follows:

2009 - 2014:

All animals were counted and the distance to each animal, or group of animals, was recorded at right angles to the vehicle. This distance allowed us to apply a species' correction factor for each type of animal counted. This was done in order to compensate for animals not seen. For example, the chances of seeing large animals like zebra over a great distance are much higher than the probability or chances of seeing a smaller animal like a steenbok. Therefore a correction factor of 1.2 can be used for zebra (because one is likely to see most of them over a set distance). A much higher correction factor of 10 can be used for steenbok – over the same set distance one is likely to see only a few steenbok while the rest will be hidden by "dead" ground or obstacles.

A standard strip-width of 1000m was used, so that the area covered could then be multiplied into the overall area. This is known as an area correction factor (the number of times a 1000m wide strip will fit into the whole area). Only the animals inside the 1000m area (500m on either side of the road) were multiplied by the correction factor, in order to determine the population estimate for the given area.

Population, biomass and density estimates were calculated for each game count zone.

2015 onwards:

The method was refined to use the DISTANCE methodology. Species correction curves were derived using all sightings from previous game counts and these were then used to derive effective strip widths for each species in each zone and habitat. These revised 'correction factors' were applied in the calculations. As a consequence, for all species there are some discrepancies between data up to 2014 and from 2015 onwards. This is most evident in species where no correction was previously applied, for example Ludwig's Bustard.
Population, biomass and density estimates were calculated for 1) each game count zone, 2) each habitat, and 3) each habitat within each zone. Note that totals for habitats and zones will not match exactly due to the different calculations used for the two analyses.

2. Supplementary Game Estimates

For those areas which are not included in the annual game count, estimates of the number of animals of each species are made based on a range of methods such as incidental observations, camera traps and informal game counts. These estimates comprise an estimated number of animals in a given area, typically a farm. These estimates are currently only available for 2013. For this website these areas are designated a code such as GE01. Density and biomass values are then calculated from the numbers of animals and farm size. Formulas are given in this spreadsheet.

Species and Biomass

The species for which data are included on this website, and the biomass values used in the 'biomass per hectare' calculations, are as follows.

Species Biomass (kg)
Blesbok 100
Gemsbok 220
Hartebeest 130
Kudu 180
Ostrich 68
Springbok 38
Steenbok 11
Zebra, Burchell's 300

The category '8 species combined', used in the results, includes the 8 species listed above.


For some areas there are also data for:

Species Biomass (kg)
Klipspringer 12
Ludwig's bustard  
Zebra, Mountain 280


Results are presented by year and by species.  Use the lists to view maps, charts and tables of game count results for selected species and years. For a full discussion of the methodology and results see the game count reports under Literature.