Samara’s tens of thousands of acres are home to over 65 species of mammal, 220 species of bird and 50 types of reptile and amphibian. Many of these species are specially adapted to the Karoo’s harsh semi-arid environment. One example is the oryx (or gemsbok) whose nasal circulation system allows this striking antelope to cool the blood flowing to its brain through capillaries in its nose as it breathes. Samara is home to the so-called Big Five (elephant, lion, buffalo, black rhino and leopard), although leopard sightings are by no means guaranteed. Cheetah sightings, on the other hand, are a Samara specialty.
Certain species are endangered and thus of significant conservation value. These include the cheetah, Cape mountain zebra, Black rhinoceros and elephant, as well as the Cape vulture, Ludwig’s bustard and Blue crane – South Africa’s national bird.
Samara also hosts a diverse array of trees, grasses and flowers. The higher elevations form part of the Sneeuberg Centre for Endemism, a recently-discovered montane floral hotspot with 30 endemic species – species found nowhere else on Earth. Indeed, a plant found on Samara is believed to be new to science.