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Tanzania National Parks and Game Reserves - Serengeti National Park
Tanzania info > Tanzania Parks and Reserves > Serengeti National Park

The Serengeti is Tanzania's largest Park and probably one of the best known safari destinations in the world. It's bordered by the Ngorongoro Crater and Highlands, the Great Rift Valley and to the West by Lake Victoria. The main park is drained to the west by three main rivers, the Mara, Grumeti and Mbalageti Rivers. This area forms only a part of the whole Serengeti ecosystem, which extends to the surrounding game reserves; Maswa to the southwest, Grumeti and Ikorongo controlled areas to the west, Loliondo to the east and the Maasai-mara in Kenya to the north
Natural World Heritage Site - Criteria iii, iv - Biosphere Reserve

Biogeographical Province
3.05.04 (East African Woodland/savanna)

serengeti map - click the map to expand and view details
The Serengeti National Park and Its sorroundings,
click the map to expand and view details

11. Ngorongoro Serena Lodge
12. Ngorongoro Camp (seasonal & mobile)
13. Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge
14. Ngorongoro Crater Lodge
14.
Ngorongoro Wildlife Lodge
15. Kirurumu Tented Lodge
16. Lake Manyara Lodges
17. Tamarind Camp (seasonal & mobile)
18. Tarangire safari Lodge
19. Hotels in Kilimanjaro


Activities in Serengeti: - Wildlife Photography - Hot air Ballooning ; - Wildlife Safaris; - Walking Safaris; - Bird Watching Safaris; - Cultural visits - Photographic Safaris; - Game drives; - Night drives; - Fly-in Safaris; - Camping Safaris; - Self drive Safaris - Lodge Safaris; - Horseback Safaris; - Family Safaris; - Classic Mobile African Safaris

Geographical Location West of Great Rift Valley, 130km west-north-west of Arusha. A corridor extends westwards to within 8km of Lake Victoria and a northern sector extending to the Kenya border. In Mara, Arusha, and Shinyanga regions. 1°30'-3°20'S, 34°00'-35°15'E

Date and History of Establishment Protected area since 1940. In 1929, 228,600ha of central Serengeti was declared a game reserve. Afforded national park status in 1951 with extensive boundary modifications in 1959. Internationally recognised as part of Serengeti-Ngorongoro Biosphere Reserve (with the adjoining Maswa Game Reserve) under UNESCO's Man and the Biosphere Programme in 1981 and inscribed on the World Heritage List in the same year.

Area Serengeti National Park (1,476,300ha) is contained by the biosphere reserve (2,305,100ha); contiguous to Ngorongoro Conservation Area (809,440ha) in the south east, Lolindo Game Controlled Area to the north east (400,000); Maswa Game Reserve (220,000ha; recently reduced) in the south, Maasai-Mara National Reserve (151,000ha) in Kenya to the north, and the Ikorongo-Grumeti Game Controlled Area (500,000) in the west.

Altitude 920m to 1,850m

Physical Features The plains of Serengeti are mainly crystalline rocks overlain by volcanic ash with numerous granitic rock outcrops (kopjes). In the north and along the western corridor are mountain ranges of mainly volcanic origin. Two rivers flowing west usually contain water and there are a number of lakes, marshes, and waterholes.

Climate Rainfall is mainly restricted to November-May with peaks in December and March/April. Mean annual temperature 20.8°C and mean annual precipitation 1210mm recorded at 1,150m. Rainfall tends to decrease towards the east and increase to the north andwest, reaching 950mm annually in the western corridor near to Lake Victoria, and 1150mm annually in the extreme north of the park near to the border with Kenya.

Temperature
(Maximum Celsius in Resort Areas)

Area J F M A M J J A S O N D
Serengeti 27 28 28 25 24 22 20 18 22 25 25 27
Kirawira 28 29 29 26 25 23 21 19 23 26 26 28

Rainfall chart.

Area J F M A M J J A S O N D
Serengeti 6 5 13 24 11 0 0 0 3 6 13 11
Kirawira 8 6 14 26 13 2 2 2 5 8 14 13

(To convert into inches, divide by 25.4)
Rainfall Figures (All in mm)

Vegetation The undulating open grassland plains are the major type of vegetation, but become almost desert during periods of severe drought. Dominant species are couch grass Digitaria macroblephara and Sporobolus marginatus (an indicator of saline soils). In wetter areas, sedges such as Kyllinga spp. take over. There is an extensive block of acacia woodland savanna in the centre, a more hilly and densely wooded zone covering most of the northern arm of the park, and some gallery forest. Lowland woodlands comprise Commiphora, Acacia drepanolobium, and A. gerrardii. Upland woodlands comprise Acacia lahai and A. seyal.

serengeti migration

Fauna The park is best known for the now unrivalled herd sizes of 'plains game', which migrate between seasonal water supplies and grasslands. These include wildebeest Connochaetes taurinus (LR), zebra Equus burchelli, Thomson's gazelle Gazella thomsoni (LR), numerous prides of lion Panthera leo (VU) numbering up to 3,000 individuals (Packer, 1996), and spotted hyena Crocuta crocuta (LR). In May and June many game animals take part in a mass migration away from the central plains into the western corridor. The annual wildebeest migration is described in SRCS (1992) and Murray (1992). In the 1950s the wildebeest population is thought to have numbered 190,000, subsequently increasing to an estimated 1.69 million in 1989 (SRCS, 1992), and 1.27 million in 1991 (TWCM, 1992). Other characteristic mammals are leopard Panthera pardus, cheetah Acinonyx jubatus (VU), elephant Loxodonta africana (EN) estimated to number 1,357 in 1994 (Said et al., 1995), black rhinoceros Diceros bicornis (CR), hippopotamus Hippopotamus amphibius, giraffe Giraffa camelopardalis (LR), buffalo Syncerus caffer (LR), topi Damaliscus lunatus (LR), waterbuck Kobus ellipsiprymnus (LR), eland Taurotragus oryx, sitatunga Tragelaphus spekei (LR), bushbuck T. scriptus, oryx Oryx gazella (LR), reedbuck Redunca redunca (LR), mountain reedbuck R. fulvorufula (LR), numerous species of rodents and bats, golden jackal Canis aureus, side striped jackal C. adustus, Grant's gazelle Gazella granti (LR), seven species of mongoose, two species of otter, warthog Phacochoerus aethiopicus, and seven species of primate. Smaller predators include bat-eared fox Otocyon megalotis and ratel Mellivora capensis. The last packs of wild dog Lycaon pictus (EN) disappeared from the park in 1991. A rabies epidemic killed three of the packs, but there is no clear consensus on the full cause of the disappearance (Morell, 1995; Dye, 1996; East and Hofer, 1996). Cheeters in Serengeti National Park

Over 350 recorded bird species include 34 species of raptors, six vultures, kori bustard Choriotis kori, ostrich Struthio camelus and lesser flamingo Phoenicopterus minor (LR), and several with a comparatively restricted distribution such as rufous-tailed weaver Histurgops ruficauda.

Cultural Heritage During the 19th century the Serengeti and Masai Mara are thought to have been open grasslands free from tseste fly and extensively grazed by pastoralists. In the 1880s a rinderpest epidemic caused wildlife and domestic livestock losses, causing much of the human population to abandon the area (SRCS, 1992). The whole of the eastern half of the park was previously part of the Maasi pastoralist system, whose rangeland resources were used by both wildlife and livestock. The Maasi are the largest pastoral ethnic group in East Africa, and their cultural code precludes consumption of meat from wild animals (Leader-Williams et al., 1996).

Local Human Population There is no resident human population but the Maasai occupy the eastern frontiers of the park, and the area to the west of the park is densely populated. Population growth on these western frontiers is 4% per year (Packer, 1996). The population in the Serengeti District as a whole increased by about 54% during the period 1967 - 1978, and the population in the seven districts to the west of the park reached a total of 1,733,958 in 1988. Agriculture is the main source of income, but many people have been attracted to the area by the wildlife resource and tourism opportunities presented by the park (Campbell and Hofer, 1993; Leader-Williams, 1996).

Visitors and Visitors Facilities Tourist facilities include lodges at Seronera and Lobo and four campsites near Seronera. Lodges were being built at Kirawira (one operational as of August 1989), Klein's Camp, Banagai, Turner Springs, Seronera and Nyaruboru. Six access routes exist, but usually access is by road from the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. There are several airstrips and an aerodrome at Seronera. In 1983, the lowest number of visitors (18,602) since the 1950s was recorded, following several years of isolation due to the closed border with Kenya. The reopening of the Tanzania-Kenya border in December 1983 resulted in increased visitor numbers. Serengeti Regional Conservation Strategy figures indicate that visitors to the park rose from 11,000 to 40,000 during the period 1985-1991. Further expansion is expected following the completion of new lodges and other infrastructural projects (SRCS, 1992).

the serengeti plains

Scientific Research
The park has been the centre for major research for the past 30 years. The Serengeti Wildlife Research Institute (SWRI) has a research centre at Seronera. This has well-equipped laboratories, a library, herbarium and accommodation for visiting scientists. Projects active during 1992 included the continuation of long-term research on ecosystem processes, the behavioural ecology of lion, leopard and ungulates, population dynamics and reproduction of mongoose, and the ecology of dung beetles and termites. A programme on the behaviour and ecology of the African wild dog used radio-collaring techniques to monitor 22 individuals (SWRC, 1993). When the wild dog population disappeared from the park in 1991, controversy erupted over whether the stress of handling the dogs to fit radio-collars helped cause their disappearance (Morell, 1995; Dye, 1996; East and Hofer, 1996). A number of externally funded scientists conduct research at the SWRI, and the staff of the Tanzania Wildlife Conservation Monitoring (TWCM) programme have taken over the long term ecological monitoring programme, and carry out regular aerial surveys and wildlife censuses (SRCS, 1992).

Conservation Value Serengeti National Park, with its herds of ungulates and their associated predators, is the last remnant of a Pleistocene large mammal ecosystem in all its complexity. The park, in combination with the contiguous Ngorongoro Conservation Area and Maasai Mara National Park, is sufficiently large to ensure the survival of this savanna ecosystem.

Conservation Management In 1951, the original boundary of the National Park included land to the south andleopard in Serengeti National Park east of the present park and the Ngorongoro Highlands. Pastoralism and cultivation by the Maasi were allowed to continue until 1954 when it was felt that this was incompatible with resource conservation, and the park was divided into the present day Serengeti National Park, and the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. The National Park was set aside strictly for wildlife conservation and tourism, and human access was restricted (Leader-Williams et al., 1996). The preservationist approach to protected areas management has slowly been changing throughout the 1980s. IUCN has coordinated aconservation and development programme in the Serengeti region, in collaboration with NORAD, the Serengeti Regional Conservation Strategy. Phase II started in 1989 with the development of a Conservation and Development Plan, developed and executed with the involvement of local people. The overall goal is to change the approach of the management and utilization of the Serengeti from the traditional approach which has excluded local communities, to one in which the needs of human development in the region are reconciled with natural resource conservation (SRCS, 1992). It has been recognised that wildlife is an important economic resource for rural communities around the park. It is hoped that creating schemes whereby local communities are given legal rights to manage the wildlife around their villages will prevent the present illegal and unsustainable levels of wildlife poaching from the park. Areas suitable for development as buffer zones to the park have been identified where wildlife can be managed by the local people, and village Wildlife Committees are supervising conservation activities. The Serengeti Regional Conservation Strategy also includes programmes to stabilise land use, and plans to channel more money earned from tourist activities within the park back into the community (Leader-Williams et al., 1996).

The park administration works with the village authorities to resettle encroachers and re-mark the boundary. Grumeti Game Controlled Area has been incorporated in the park as greater control of the area was thought to be necessary.

Getting There: Scheduled and charter flights from Arusha, Lake Manyara and Mwanza. Drive from Arusha, Lake Manyara, Tarangire or Ngorongoro Crater.

View of the Serengeti Plains, Ngorongoro Crater, Olduvai Gorge, Lake Eyasi and Lake Manyara and part of the great rift valley, crossing the East Africa
View of the Serengeti Plains, Ngorongoro Crater, Olduvai Gorge, Lake Eyasi, Manyara, and Narton, and part of the Great rift valley, crossing the East Africa.

 
   
   
   
     

 

 

 

 

     
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