Namibia Animal Count Sees Noah's Ark-Full of Beasts

Namibia conducts annual animal count to track conservation, lure tourists.

ByABC News
January 7, 2010, 12:26 PM

Jan. 8, 2010 — -- Three random animal facts from Namibia:

1. If you get too close to a group of wild ostriches, they will stampede... and it's hilarious to watch.

2. Giraffes eat bones. For real. They pick up the bones of dead animals and swallow them whole. They do this to get extra nutrients.

3. Jackals are much cuter than their name implies. They look like a cross between a fox and a collie.

"Nightline" traveled to Namibia for what is described as the largest annual animal count on Earth. It's part of a revolutionary effort to transform a place that used to be running out of animals into one that is literally crawling with them.

We were the first reporters to cover the animal count, which involves more than 250 people fanning out in 60 vehicles. They count animals over about 15 million acres over three weeks. They literally count every animal they see.

There are spring bock, a kind of small antelope, and oryx, another antelope relative with huge horns. There are zebras and zebra babies.

The counters have some serious eagle eyes. They're able to spot critters incredibly far away, even if the animals are obscured by tall grass.

Ten years ago, when the animal count began, the numbers were much lower. Counters would drive for hours and hours and not see any animals at all.

"You wouldn't see one [animal]," said guide Raymond Peters. "After 10 years, you can see you have to stop every five minutes now to count animals. ... It is very satisfying.