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The Living Edens
Mammals of Namib, Who's In Charge

Instructional Objectives
Background Material
Evaluation / Alternative Assessment
Web Resources

Instructional Objectives:

Students will:
  1. Identify the mammals of the Namib Desert shown in the PBS program The Living Edens "Namib"
  2. Categorize which mammals are predators and which are prey
  3. Present the list of predators and prey to the class and discuss the balance of nature in Namib

Background Material:

The mammals of the Namib Desert as show in the PBS program The Living Edens "Namib" are: The Cape Fur Seal, Warthog, Brown Hyena, Jackal, African Oryx or Gemsbok, and Golden Mole.

The Cape Fur Seal is a coastal inhabitant and found in great numbers on the Namib Coast. The body size from head to tail for the Cape Fur Seal male is about 8 feet long and weighs over 700 pounds, female about 5-6 feet and weighs over 200 pounds. The fur seal has four flippers two on the side and two on the tail. The Cape Fur Seal is brown and newly born pups are black. The scientific name of the Cape Fur Seal is Arctocephalus pusillus.

The African Warthog is also found in Namib. The male Warthog is up to five feet long, weighs up to 300 pounds, and the female is slightly smaller in length, and about half the weight of the male. The Warthog will eat grasses and other plant life and sometimes small mammals. The Warthog is gray with a brown mane. They hide in holes in the ground and rest during the night and middle of the day. The scientific name of the African Warthog is Phacochoerus aethiopicus.

The Brown Hyena is found in Namib and is a predator. As seen in the program The Living Edens "Namib", the Brown Hyena will prey on Cape Fur Seal pups. The Brown Hyena is found throughout southeastern Africa. The Brown Hyena grows to about 4 feet long and weighs over 100 pounds. The Brown Hyena is usually nocturnal and is not active during the day. The Brown Hyena will eat all small prey including birds, insects, rodents and anything else it can find. It will also eat carrion found along the coast such as dead fish and seals or whales. The scientific name of the Brown Hyena is Hyena brunnea.

The Black Backed Jackal is found in the Namib and is a predator. The male is heavier than the female and is a little over 3 feet long and weighs about 20 pounds. The Jackal is found in Savannah and in semi desert. The Jackal is active both during the day and at night. It is black to gray in color with a white belly. The scientific name of the Black Backed Jackal is Canis mesomelas.

The African Oryx or Gemsbok is also an inhabitant of the Namib. Both the male and the female have horns and is commonly called the Gemsbok. The body length is about 8 feet long and it weighs about 450 pounds. The Gemsbok is well adapted to the desert with special adaptations to cool its body. The scientific name of the Gemsbok is Oryx gazella. It also uses the water from plants to survive and can survive without drinking water. The Gemsbok is a plant eater and thrives on leaves and wild fruits or roots.

The Golden Mole of the Namib is also a predator and feeds on termites. It has unusual senses to detect the presence of the insect and survives in this harsh environment. It is yellow in color and has long fur. The Golden Mole is nocturnal and travels great distances at night in search of food. It will eat other insects such as beetles and ants, and also spiders and moths. The scientific name of the Golden Mole is Eremitalpa granti.

Resources used for the above information :
PBS program The Living Edens "Namib", which aired on July 16, 1997, Burton, John A.
Pearson, Bruce, The Collins Guide to the Rare Mammals Of The World, The Stephen Greene Press, Lexington, Massachusetts, 1987,
Haltenorth, Theodor and Diller, Helmut, The Collins Field Guide to the Mammals of Africa, Including Madagascar, The Stephen Greene Press, Lexington, Massachusetts, 1980.

Target Grade Level:

Middle Level Students, grades 6-8

Materials Needed:

  • A copy of the PBS program The Living Edens "Namib"
  • A computer with access to the World Wide Web
  • Paper and pencil
  • Student science journals


  1. Have students observe the mammals in the PBS program The Living Edens "Namib."

  2. In groups of 3-4 students:
  1. Have students gather in groups and identify the mammals and determine which are prey and which are predators. Also question students as to whether mammals can be both predator and prey.
  2. Have students record the results of their discussions in the student science journals.
  3. Have students present the results of their discussions as to which are predators, which are prey, and which mammals might be both.
  4. Students may want to research the mammals of Namib on the World Wide Web.

Evaluation/Alternative Assessment:

Teacher observes the groups discussing the predator and prey from the Namib program. Teacher then directs the class discussion and presentation by groups as to which mammals are prey , which are predators and which might be both.

Elementary Extension:

Elementary students may need a discussion regarding what is a mammal, bird, reptile, etc. before participating in this activity.

You may want to have elementary students draw some of the mammals found in the PBS program The Living Edens "Namib."

You may also want elementary students to role play predators and prey from the Namib Desert. Elements in the role playing might be aggressive behavior, what to eat and sounds which can be mimicked from PBS' The Living Edens "Namib" program.

High School Extension:

High school students can research in depth the mammals in the PBS program The Living Edens "Namib" and enlarge the research by examine all the mammals in southern Africa.

They may also determine the boundaries that separate certain mammals from southern Africa and the Namib.

They may also try to rank order mammals that are at the top of the food chain down to the lower end.

Web Sites:

Brown Hyena:




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