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Serengeti National Park

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Serengeti National Park
IUCN category II (national park)
Landscape in Serengeti National Park
Coordinates2°20′S 34°34′E / 2.333°S 34.567°E / -2.333; 34.567
Area14,750 km2 (5,700 sq mi)
Visitors350,000 per year[1]
Governing bodyTanzania National Parks Authority
Criteriavii, x
Designated1981 (5th session)
Reference no.156
State PartyTanzania

The Serengeti National Park is a Tanzanian national park in the Serengeti ecosystem in the Mara and Simiyu regions.[2][3] It is famous and well known for its annual migration of over 1.5 million white-bearded (or brindled) wildebeest and 250,000 zebra and for its numerous Nile crocodile and honey badger. That migration is the largest remaining unaltered animal migration. [4] It contains 1.5 million ha of savanna. [5]The park is the centerpiece of the Serengeti Ecosystem and twice as large and includes neighboring Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Maasai Mara National Reserve in bordering Kenya.[6]


A group of lions in a tree on the Serengeti prairies.
A group of lions in a tree on the Serengeti prairies.

Early human ancestors lived in what would become the Serengeti for 4 million years (Australopithecus afarensi).[7] The Maasai people had been grazing their livestock in the open plains of eastern Mara Region, which they named "endless plains," for around 200 years when the first European explorer, Austrian Oscar Baumann, visited the area in 1892.[8] The name "Serengeti" is an approximation of the word used by the Maasai to describe the area, siringet, which means "the place where the land runs on forever".[9]

The first American to enter the Serengeti, Stewart Edward White, recorded his explorations in the northern Serengeti in 1913. He 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.[10]

Because the hunting of lions made them scarce, the British colonial administration made a partial game reserve of 800 acres (3.2 km2) in the area in 1921 and a full one in 1929. These actions were the basis for Serengeti National Park,[9] which was established in 1951.

The Serengeti gained more fame after the initial work of Bernhard Grzimek and his son Michael in the 1950s. Together, they produced the book and film Serengeti Shall Not Die, widely recognized as one of the most important early pieces of nature conservation documentary.[11]

To preserve wildlife, the British evicted the resident Maasai from the park in 1959 and moved them to the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. There is still considerable controversy surrounding this move, with claims made of coercion and deceit on the part of the colonial authorities.[9]

The park 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 National Park, Tarangire National Park, Arusha National Park and the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. It has over 2,500 lions and more than 1.5 million wildebeest.


The Basement complex consists of Archaen Nyanzian System greenstones (2.81-2.63 Ga in age), Archaean granite-gneiss plutons (2.72-2.56 Ga in age), which were uplifted 180 Ma ago) forming koppies and elongated hills, the Neoproterozoic Mozambique Belt consisting of quartzite or granite, and the Neoproterozoic Ikorongo Group, consisting of sandstone, shale and siltstone that form linear ridges. The southeast portion of the park contains Ngorongoro Neogene-aged volcanics, and Oldoinyo Lengai Holocene-aged volcanic ash. The Grometi, Mara, Mbalageti, and Orangi rivers flow westward to Lake Victoria, while the Oldupai River flows eastward into the Olbalbal Swamps.[12] To the southeast is Oluvai Gorge in Ngrongoro Conservation Area, the site of many hominin fossils. It is nicknamed "the Cradle of Mankind."[13]


The park covers 14,750 square kilometres (5,700 sq mi)[14] of grassland plains, savanna, riverine forest, and woodlands. The park lies in northwestern Tanzania, bordered to the north by the Kenyan border, where it is continuous with the Maasai Mara National Reserve. To the southeast of the park is the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, to the southwest lies Maswa Game Reserve, to the west are the Ikorongo and Grumeti Game Reserves, and to the northeast and east lies the Loliondo Game Control Area. Together, these areas form the larger Serengeti ecosystem.

The park is usually described as divided into three regions-

  • Serengeti plains: the almost treeless grassland of the south is the most emblematic scenery of the park. This is where the wildebeest breed, as they remain in the plains from December to May. Other hoofed animals - zebra, gazelle, impala, hartebeest, topi, buffalo, waterbuck - also occur in huge numbers during the wet season. "Kopjes" are granite florations that are very common in the region, and they are great observation posts for predators, as well as a refuge for hyrax and pythons.
A hippopotamus walking on the grass land in Serengeti National Park in the morning
A hippopotamus walking on the grass land in Serengeti National Park in the morning
Wildebeest on the main highway of the Western Corridor
Wildebeest on the main highway of the Western Corridor
  • Northern Serengeti: the landscape is dominated by open woodlands (predominantly Commiphora) and hills, ranging from Seronera in the south to the Mara River on the Kenyan border. It is remote and relatively inaccessible. Apart from the migratory wildebeest and zebra (which occur from July to August, and in November), this is the best place to find elephant, giraffe, and dik dik.

Human habitation is forbidden in the park with the exception of staff of the Tanzania National Parks Authority, researchers and staff of the Frankfurt Zoological Society, and staff of the various lodges, campsites and hotels. The main settlement is Seronera, which houses the majority of research staff and the park's main headquarters, including its primary airstrip.


An impala in the park
An impala in the park
A leopard and her cub in a tree on the Serengeti Plain
A leopard and her cub in a tree on the Serengeti Plain
A cheetah in the Serengeti prairies
A cheetah in the Serengeti prairies
Wildebeest escaping a Nile crocodile while passing the Grumeti River
Wildebeest escaping a Nile crocodile while passing the Grumeti River
Wildebeest swimming across Mara River
Wildebeest swimming across Mara River
A Superb starling in the Serengeti National Park
A Superb starling in the Serengeti National Park

The park is known worldwide for its abundance of wildlife and high biodiversity.

The migratory - and some resident - wildebeest, which number over 1.5 million individuals, constitute the largest population of big mammals that still roam the planet. They are joined in their journey through the Serengeti-Mara ecosystem by 200,000 plains zebra, 300,000 Thomson's gazelle[17][18] and Grant's gazelle, and tens of thousands of topi and Coke's hartebeest. Masai giraffe, waterbuck, greater kudu, impala, common warthog and hippopotamus are also abundant. Some rarely seen species of antelope are also present in Serengeti National Park, such as common eland, klipspringer, oribi, reedbuck, roan antelope, sable antelope, steenbok, common duiker, bushbuck, lesser kudu, fringe-eared oryx and dik dik. Herds support 7,500 hyenas, 3,000 lions, and 250 cheetahs. There are more than 500 birds and 300 mammal species.[citation needed]

Perhaps the most popular animals among tourists are the Big Five, which include:

  • Lion: the Serengeti is believed to hold the largest lion population in Africa due in part to the abundance of prey species. More than 3,000 lions live in this ecosystem.[19] Since 2005, the protected area is considered a Lion Conservation Unit together with Maasai Mara National Reserve and a lion stronghold in East Africa.[20]
  • African leopard: these reclusive predators are commonly seen in the Seronera region but are present throughout the national park with a population of around 1,000.[21]
  • African bush elephant: the herds have recovered successfully from population lows in the 1980s caused by poaching, now numbering over 5,000 individuals,[22] and are particularly numerous in the northern region of the park.
  • Eastern black rhinoceros: mainly found around the kopjes in the centre of the park, very few individuals remain due to rampant poaching. Individuals from the Maasai Mara Reserve cross the park border and enter Serengeti from the northern section at times. There is currently a small but stable population of 31 individuals left in the park.[23]
  • Cape buffalo: the most numerous of the Big Five, with around 53,000 individuals inside the park.

Carnivores include the cheetah,[21] which is widely seen due to the abundance of gazelle, about 3,500 spotted hyena,[21] two species of jackal, African golden wolf, honey badger, striped hyena, caracal, serval, seven species of mongooses, two species of otters and the East African wild dog of 300 individuals, which was recently reintroduced (locally extinct since 1991).[24][21] Apart from the safari staples, primates such as yellow and olive baboons and vervet monkey, black-and-white colobus are also seen in the gallery forests of the Grumeti River.[25]

Other mammals include aardvark, aardwolf, african wildcat african civet, common genet, zorilla, african striped weasel, bat-eared fox, ground pangolin, crested porcupine, three species of hyraxes and cape hare.

Serengeti National Park also attracts great ornithological interest, boasting about more than 500 bird species;[17][18] including Masai ostrich, secretarybird, kori bustards, helmeted guineafowls, Grey-breasted spurfowl, southern ground hornbill, crowned cranes, marabou storks, yellow-billed stork, lesser flamingo, martial eagles, lovebirds, oxpeckers, and many species of vultures.

A rare Black rhino in the neighboring Ngorongoro Conservation Area. There are flamingos in the background
A rare Black rhino in the neighboring Ngorongoro Conservation Area. There are flamingos in the background

Reptiles in Serengeti National Park include Nile crocodile, leopard tortoise, serrated hinged terrapin, rainbow

agama, Nile monitor, chameleon, African python, black mamba,[17] black-necked spitting cobra, puff adder.

Great Migration

The great migration is a iconic feature of the park. It is also the world's longest overland migration.[26] Roughly 1.5 million wildebeest migrate north from the south all the way through the park north into Maasai Mara.[27] From January to March (Calving Season), half a million wildebeests are born which makes sure the herd survives to the next year. Attacks by the largest lion population in Africa are common this time.. In March, the herds leave the southern plains and start the migration. Giant eland, Plains zebra, and Thomson's gazelle will also join them on the way.[26] In April and May, they will pass the Western Corridor. When this happens, smaller camps have to close down due to impassable roads.[28]When the dry season comes, the herd moves north to the Maasai Mara where is lush green grass.[29]The will have to pass the Grumeti and Mara Rivers though and 3,000 crocodiles that wait and suddenly lunge at them. For every one wildebeest captured by the crocodiles, 50 drown. It is a reason why the Serengeti is so famous.[26] When the dry season comes to a end in late October, they will head back down south to where they started their journey a year earlier. The full trip is 800 km (500 mi).[30] Annually, around 250,000 wildebeest and 30,000 Plains zebras die usually due to predation, exhaustion, thirst, or disease.[28]

Administration and protection

Because of its biodiversity and ecological significance, the park has been listed by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization as a World Heritage Site. As a national park, it is designated as a Category II protected area under the system developed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, which means that it should be managed, through either a legal instrument or another effective means, to protect the ecosystem or ecological processes as a whole.[31]

Tanzania National Parks Authority is the administrative body for all parks in Tanzania. Myles Turner was one of the park's first game wardens and is credited with bringing its rampant poaching under control.[32] His autobiography, My Serengeti Years: The Memoirs of an African Game Warden, provides a detailed history of the park's early years.

Grey crowned crane in Serengeti National Park, Tanzania
Grey crowned crane in Serengeti National Park, Tanzania

"Snapshot Serengeti" is a science project by the University of Minnesota Lion Project, which seeks to classify over 30 species of animals within the park using 225 camera traps to better understand how they interact with each other and lions.[33]

Proposed road across the northern Serengeti

In July 2010, President Jakaya Kikwete renewed his support for an upgraded road through the northern portion of the park to link Mto wa Mbu, southeast of Ngorongoro Crater, and Musoma on Lake Victoria. While he said that the road would lead to much-needed development in poor communities, others, including conservation groups and foreign governments like Kenya, argued that the road could irreparably damage the great migration and the park's ecosystem.[34][35][36]

The African Network for Animal Welfare sued the Tanzanian government in December 2010 at the East African Court of Justice in Arusha to prevent the road project. The court ruled in June 2014 that the plan to build the road was unlawful because it would infringe the East African Community Treaty under which member countries must respect protocols on conservation, protection, and management of natural resources. The court, therefore, restrained the government from going ahead with the project.[37]

Proposed extension of park boundaries to Lake Victoria

Government officials have proposed expanding the Serengeti National Park to reach Lake Victoria because increasingly intense droughts are threatening the survival of millions of animals.[38]There however has been lots of opposition due to it requiring to force Maasai of their land.


  1. ^ "Dar registers "three wonders"". Daily News (Tanzania). 20 August 2012. Archived from the original on 22 September 2012. Retrieved 28 January 2013.
  2. ^ The official Map of Tanzania with New Regions and Districts, Ministry of Lands, Housing and Human Settlements Development, 21 September 2012[permanent dead link]
  3. ^ "Simiyu Region". Archived from the original on 14 March 2016. Retrieved 22 October 2016.
  4. ^ "Conservation Serengeti - Wildlife protection and community support in Tanzania's Serengeti National Park". Retrieved 12 November 2020.
  5. ^ UNESCO World Heritage Centre. "Serengeti National Park". UNESCO World Heritage Centre. Retrieved 18 November 2020.
  6. ^ "Conservation Serengeti - Wildlife protection and community support in Tanzania's Serengeti National Park". Retrieved 12 November 2020.
  7. ^ "Serengeti National Park travel information - Tanzania". Retrieved 12 November 2020.
  8. ^ "Dr. Oscar Baumann".
  9. ^ a b c "National Geographic Magazine". Magazine. Archived from the original on 29 June 2012. Retrieved 26 September 2019.
  10. ^ "Stewart Edward White".
  11. ^ Boes, T. (2013). Political animals: Serengeti Shall Not Die and the cultural heritage of mankind. German Studies Review, 36(1), 41–59.
  12. ^ Scoon, Roger (2018). Geology of National Parks of Central/ Southern Kenya and Northern Tanzania: Geotourism of the Gregory Rift Valley, Active Volcanism and Regional Plateaus. Springer. pp. 69–79. ISBN 9783319737843.
  13. ^ "Home". Retrieved 14 November 2020.
  14. ^ "Tanzania in figures 2012, National Bureau of Statistics, Ministry of Finance, June 2013, page 12" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 26 November 2013.
  15. ^ Safaris, Discover Africa. "Western Corridor and Grumeti | Everything to know | Discover Africa Safaris". Retrieved 13 November 2020.
  16. ^ Safaris, Discover Africa. "Western Corridor and Grumeti | Everything to know | Discover Africa Safaris". Retrieved 13 November 2020.
  17. ^ a b c "What Birds To Watch In Serengeti National Park". Animal Network. Retrieved 13 August 2019.
  18. ^ a b "Getting To Serengeti National Park". bushbuckltd. Retrieved 13 August 2019.
  19. ^ Mésochina, P., Mbangwa, O., Chardonnet, P., Mosha, R., Mtui, B., Drouet, N. and Kissui, B. (2010). Conservation status of the lion (Panthera leo Linnaeus, 1758) in Tanzania. Paris: SCI Foundation, MNRT-WD, TAWISA & IGF Foundation.
  20. ^ IUCN Cat Specialist Group (2006). Conservation Strategy for the Lion Panthera leo in Eastern and Southern Africa. Pretoria, South Africa: IUCN.
  21. ^ a b c d "Tanzania: Concern As Serengeti Leopards Resort to Cannibalism". allafrica. Retrieved 23 July 2019.
  22. ^ Mduma H, Musyoki C, Maliti Kyale D, Nindi S, Hamza K, Ndetei R, Machoke M, Kimutai D, Muteti D, Maloba M, Bakari S, Kohi E. "Aerial Total Count of Elephants and Buffaloes in the Serengeti-Mara Ecosystem" (PDF). WWF-World Wide Fund For Nature (Formerly World Wildlife Fund), Nairobi, Kenya. Archived from the original (PDF) on 9 September 2016. Retrieved 14 December 2016.
  23. ^ "Number of rhinos stabilizes in Serengeti National Park". Retrieved 22 July 2019.
  24. ^ "Wild dogs of the Serengeti". Africageographic. Retrieved 22 July 2019.
  25. ^ "Serengeti primates". Focusing on Wildlife. Retrieved 13 August 2019.
  26. ^ a b c Medina, N. (2019). Where Is the Serengeti?. WhoHQ. New York: Penguin Random House. ISBN 9781524792565.
  27. ^ "The great migration in Serengeti National Park, Tanzania". Retrieved 12 November 2020.
  28. ^ a b "How to Experience the Great Migration in Kenya and Tanzania". TripSavvy. Retrieved 18 November 2020.
  29. ^ "The great migration in Serengeti National Park, Tanzania". Retrieved 12 November 2020.
  30. ^ "The great migration in Serengeti National Park, Tanzania". Retrieved 12 November 2020.
  31. ^ "Category II: National Park". International Union for the Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 18 June 2020.
  32. ^ "Serengeti - Myles Turner". Retrieved 22 October 2016.
  33. ^ "Snapshot Serengeti". Retrieved 12 December 2012.
  34. ^ Gettleman, Jeffrey (30 October 2010). "Tanzania Road Plan in Serengeti Offers Prospects and Fears" – via
  35. ^ ""Serengeti Highway threatens great migration", Agence France-Presse, reported by Francois Ausseill, reprinted at, 29 October 2010". Archived from the original on 28 July 2014.
  36. ^ "Controversy over Serengeti road plan deepens - Business Daily".
  37. ^ "Tanzania loses Serengeti road case". The Citizen.
  38. ^ "Thirsty Serengeti wildlife to get new water hole: Lake Victoria". 15 September 2014 – via

Further reading

External links

This page was last edited on 29 November 2020, at 15:49
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