Serengeti National Park

Serengeti National Park is a Tanzanian national park famous 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.

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. 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”.

Other carnivores include the 225 cheetah,  an abundance of gazelle, about 3,500 spotted hyena, two species of jackals, African golden wolf, honey badger, striped hyena, serval, seven species of mongooses, two species of otters and the East African wild dog of 300 individuals. Primates such as yellow and olive baboons and vervet monkey and black-and-white colobus are also seen in the forests of the Grumeti River. 

Other mammals include aardvark, aardwolf, bat-eared fox, ground pangolin, crested porcupine, three species of hyraxes and cape hare.

Serengeti National Park has also great ornithological interest, boasting about more than 500 bird species.

The park is usually described as divided into three regions

  • Southern Serengeti The almost treeless plains grassland is where the wildebeest breed  remain December to May. Other hoofed animals such as zebra, gazelle, impala, hartebeest, topi, buffalo, waterbuck may also be found in huge numbers during the wet season. “Kopjes” are granite florations that are very common in the region..
  • Western Serengeti Black clay soil covers the savannah of this region. The Grumeti River and its gallery forests is home to Nile crocodiles, patas monkeys, hippopotamus, and martial eagles. The migration passes through from May to July.
  • Northern Serengeti The landscape is dominated by open woodlands  and hills, ranging from Seronera in the south to the Mara River on the Kenyan border. 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.

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

  • Lion The Serengeti is believed to hold the largest population of lions in Africa due in part to the abundance of prey species. More than 3,000 lions live in this ecosystem.
  • African Leopard These reclusive predators are commonly seen in the Seronera region but are present throughout the national park with the population at around 1,000. 
  • African Bush Elephant The herds have recovered successfully from population lows in the 1980s caused by poaching, numbering over 5,000 individuals, 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 Masai Mara Reserve cross the park border and enter Serengeti from the northern section at times. There’s currently a small but stable population of 31 individuals left in the park.
  • African Buffalo The most numerous of the Big Five, with around 53,000 individuals inside the park.
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