The Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park lies in the southern Kalahari, an arid region where annual average temperatures range from 4 - 32°C, but extreme temperatures of -11°C and up to 45°C have been recorded.
The Nossob and Auob rivers cross the area. While these riverbeds are normally dry, they do flow once or twice a century after heavy rains. A good variety of game is supported by the three large pans in the Mabuasehube area of the park. Spectacular parallel dunes of both red and white sand, separated by dune valleys, characterise the area.
Shrubby Kalahari dune bushveld predominates and is characterised by scattered shrubs of grey camel thorn (Acacia haematoxylon) and grasses such as dune bushman grass (Stipagrostis amabilis), gha grass (Centropodia glauca) and giant three-awn (Aristida meridionalis). A second component of vegetation, the thorny Kalahari dune bushveld, is characterised by sparsely scattered trees of camel thorn (Acacia erioloba), shepherd’s tree (Boscia albitrunca) and false umbrella thorn (Acacia luderitzii).
The vastness of the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park allows the nomadic ungulate populations and their predators to maintain themselves in balance with their environment, consequently there is little need for extensive management intervention. The 60 species of mammals recorded include large herds of ungulates, mainly gemsbok, springbok, blue wildebeest, eland and to a lesser extent red hartebeest. These ungulates and an abundance of rodents support many carnivores.
The transfrontier park has built up a deserved reputation as one on the few ecosystems in southern Africa where a variety of large predators can be maintained, with leopard, brown and spotted hyena, lion and cheetah all being well represented. Other carnivores include the caracal, black-backed jackal, bat-eared fox and Cape fox. The endangered wild dog is also occasionally sighted. Other threatened mammals include the pangolin, the honey badger and Woosnam’s desert rat. Three hundred and seven bird species have been recorded, including many species endemic to the arid southwest region of southern Africa. Large nests of the sociable weavers are also characteristic of the region and can contain colonies of up to 300 birds. Wild ostrich are frequently seen as well as the world’s heaviest flying bird, the Kori bustard. Of the 80 raptors recorded in South Africa, 52 have been recorded in the Kgalagadi.