Serengeti National Park – Home to Lion, Leopard and Buffalo
Serengeti National Park is situated in the Northern region of Tanzania, in the Kilifi region. Found within the boundaries of Africa’s largest country, the majority of travellers to Tanzania visit Serengeti between October and June each year. It is located within the Great Migration Zone, where the majority of wildebeests move south into the Maasai Mara Game Reserve after spending the winter across the Serengeti in search of greener pastures. Serengeti National Park covers almost half the total area of eastern Tanzania, so if you visit during the season you’ll be in for a big surprise.
Serengeti National Park offers an unforgettable wildlife experience in many aspects. From the great migration route that crisscrosses the park, to the varied landscape – grasslands, mountains, grassland and plains – there is a great deal to see and explore when visiting the park. It is situated on the eastern side of Tanzania, at the junction of two major transboundary rivers – the Zambezi and Okavango. Western Tanzania is only a short distance away, but it makes for a great destination during the long safari drive through Tanzania’s north-east.
Unlike some other parks in Tanzania, Serengeti National Park is not particularly well known or protected by international tourist organizations. It is also situated in an area where the migration patterns of wildebeest and other animals are highly irregular, and which is prone to seasonal flooding which can affect the surrounding landscape. Because the primary prey of many migratory birds and other large animals are ungulates, the park is also a site for the capture and trade of these animals for bushmeat trade.
For more than fifteen years, travellers to Tanzania have marveled at the annual migration, tracking its progress from birth through the winter season as the animals make their way towards the Serengeti basin in search of greener pastures and water. However, many do not realise that one of the biggest drivers of this great migration is the increase in numbers of wildebeests and other large mammals that enter the park from adjacent regions of southern Africa. Large game animals such as lions, hyenas, gazelles and elephants arrive in larger numbers during the year, especially in April, when they are out to feed. The increase in migration may have something to do with the fact that the two most important annual predators of wildebeests, lion and cheetah, appear to be moving towards the centre of Tanzania, while other predator species remain to make sure there is not too much competition for the various resources that are crucial to the survival of these great animals.
Because the Serengeti National Park is home to some of the most diverse wildlife populations in southern Africa, it has become a hotspot for researchers and conservationists keen to observe and record this unique flora and fauna. There are many reasons why the migration route of the large ungulates into the Serengeti is a busy and popular attraction. Not least is the fact that this migration route provides a wide variety of landscapes and vegetation types for researchers to study. One of the most popular areas is the Maasai Mara where, as well as big ungulates, you can find giraffes, antelopes, zebras and acacia. In addition to being a hotspot for research, the park offers a good range of accommodation including safari lodges, camps and lodges as well as tourist offices and visitor centres.
As well as watching the annual migration, one of the best ways to get close to these great animals is to monitor the migration routes used by predators as they travel through the Serengeti National Park. The migration is triggered off by the availability of many foods on the plains which serve as an important part of the Serengeti ecosystem. The majority of these food sources are plants that are seasonal and vital to plant growth. Many of these food sources are also located quite high up in the trees which provide the much needed protection from predators. Because many of these plants are long lasting and hardy, they provide a natural barrier to protect the migration routes and stop them being disturbed or destroyed.
As well as watching the great migration, the park also offers opportunities to see other wildlife apart from the huge migratory herd. Two of the biggest beasts that are seen in Africa by the locals and visitors to Serengeti National Park are the big five – buffalo, elephant, rhino, leopard and lion. There are other big mammals which are common in the Serengeti, including hippos, gazelles, warthogs, impala and the black rhino. These animals all make the park their home and make the visit to this place worthwhile. Many tourists come to Serengeti National Park in order to see one or more of these animals and many plan to stay in lodges in the area.
Visitors to the serengeti national park in Kenya often marvel at the size of some of the animals they encounter on their way to seeing the wildlife. It is no wonder that safari tours in the area attract thousands of visitors every year. Those coming to see lions, elephants, cheetahs, wildebeests and other great wildlife will be very happy in this location.