Diwaka Tours & Travel Limited
Aqua Plaza 4th Floor
P.O. Box 17001-00100, Nairobi - Kenya
Serengeti National Park is a large national park in Serengeti area, Tanzania. It is most famous for its annual migration of over one million and a half white bearded (or brindled) wildebeest and 200,000 zebra. The Maasai people had been grazing their livestock in the open plains which they knew as "endless plain" for over 200 years when the first European explorers visited the area.
The name Serengeti is an approximation of the word used by the Maasai to describe the area. German geographer and explorer Dr. Oscar Baumann entered the area in 1892. The first Briton to enter the Serengeti, Stewart Edward White, recorded his explorations in the northern Serengeti in 1913. Stewart returned to the Serengeti in the 1920s, and camped in the area around Seronera for three months. During this time he and his companions shot 50 lions. The Serengeti is Tanzania's oldest national park and remains the flagship of the country's tourism industry, providing a major draw to the "Northern Safari Circuit", encompassing Lake Manyara, Tarangire and Arusha national parks, as well as Ngorongoro Conservation Area.
The park covers 14,763 km² (5,700 square miles) of grassland plains and savanna as well as riverine forest and woodlands. The park lies in the north of the country, bordered to the north by the national Tanzania and Kenyan border, where it is continuous with the Masai Mara National Reserve. To the south-east of the park is Ngorongoro Conservation Area, to the south-west lies Maswa Game Reserve, and to the western borders are Ikorongo and Grumeti Game Reserves, finally to the north-east lies Loliondo Game Control Area.
The park is usually described as divided in three regions:
The endless, almost treeless grassland of the south is the most emblematic scenery of the park. This is where the wildbeest breed, as they remain in the plains from December to May. Other hoofed animals- zebra, gazelle, impala, hartebeest, topi, buffalo, waterbuck- also ocurr in huge numbers during the wet season. Kopjes are granite florations which are very common in the region, and they are great observation posts for predators, as well as a refuge for hyrax and pythons.
The "black cotton" (actually black clay) soil covers the swampy savannah of this region. Grumeti river is home to enormous Nile crocodiles, colobus monkey, and the martial eagle. The migration passes through from May to July.
The landscape is dominated by open woodlands (predominantly Commiphora) and hills, ranging from Seronera in the South, to the Mara river in the limit with Kenya. Apart from the migratory wildbeest and zebra (which ocurr from July to August, and in November), the bushy savannah is the best place to find elephant, giraffe and dik dik. As well as the migration of ungulates, the park is well known for its healthy stock of other resident wildlife, particularly the "Big Five", named for the five most prized trophies taken by hunters:
Lion: the huge amount of herbivores supports what could be the biggest population of these cats in Africa.
Leopard: these reclusive predators are commonly seen in the Seronera region.
Elephant: the herds seem to be recovering from the brainless slaughters of the 80's, and they specially abound in the northern side of the park.
Black Rhinoceros: poaching has reduced its population to a handful of individuals near the Moru Kopjes, in central Serengeti.
African Buffalo: large herds remain, despite their number has been reduced because of disease. The park also supports many further species, including cheetah, Thomson's and Grant's gazelle, topi, eland, waterbuck, hyaena, baboon, impala, African wild dog and giraffe. The park also boasts about 500 bird species, incluiding ostrich, secretary bird, Kori bustard, crowned crane and marabou stork.