The Brown Hyena Research Project’s study sites lie in the southern part of the Namib Desert. Most research takes place in the Sperrgebiet National Park, which is part of the international biodiversity hotspot the Succulent Karoo, but some satellite projects take place in the Namib Naukluft Park.
The coastline of the Sperrgebiet National Park stretches over 250 km from north of Lüderitz to Oranjemund in the south and the entire area extends 100 km inland, so that its total size is 26 000 km².
The southern Namib Desert is distinguished from the central and northern parts of Namibia by its diversity of different landscapes. Rocky mountains and inselbergs with unique succulent flora, vast gravel plains and dune fields, including mobile barchan dunes, are found throughout the area.
Precipitation is low and only present in the form of rain and fog. Annual precipitation is less than 100 mm, but varies greatly from year to year. The Sperrgebiet National Park lies in the transition zone between summer and winter rainfall, so that northern areas usually experience rain in summer and the southern areas in winter.
The coast is predominantly rocky, interspersed with sandy bays and adjacent coastal saltpans.
Along the coast strong south westerly winds prevail. The high wind velocities and the influence of the cold Benguela ocean current keep air temperatures moderate. Cape fur seals (Arctocephalus pusillus pusillus) breed on offshore islands as well as on the mainland. Four mainland breeding colonies are found in the Sperrgebiet National Park, where thousands to hundreds of thousands of seals haul out and breed.