The Serengeti Ecosystem and Migration
Adapted from Wikipedia.com
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 white man, Stewart Edward White recorded coming across it in 1913. The name Serengeti is an approximation of the word used by the Maasai to describe the area. The area was declared as a ‘protected area’ in 1921 by the then German colonial administration. The national park was gazetted in 1951 by the English administration and it then became famous after the initial work of Bernhard Grzimek and his son Michael in the 1950’s. 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.
As part of the gazetting of the park, and in order to preserve wildlife from human interruption, the area’s residents were moved to the Ngorongoro highlands.
The Serengeti was the first national park in Tanzania, and remains the flagship of the county’s tourism industry. It is a favorite destination of Journeys travelers.
Geography and Wildlife
The park covers 14,763km² 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, and the Masai Mara National Reserve. To the southeast of the park is Ngorongoro Conservation Area, to the southwest lies Maswa Game Reserve, and along the western borders are Ikorongo and Grumeti Game Reserves. Finally, to the northeast lies Loliondo Game Control Area. The Serengeti migrations travels through all of these areas.
Human habitation is forbidden in the National Park with the exception of staff for TANAPA (Tanzania National Parks), researchers and staff of Frankfurt Zoological Society, and staff of the various lodges and hotels. The main settlement is Seronera, which houses the majority of research staff and the park’s main headquarters, including its primary airstrip.
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, leopard, elephant, rhinoceros and buffalo. These species remain the key attractions to tourists, but the park also supports many otherspecies including cheetah, gazelle and giraffe. This is one of the favorite places in Africa for birders especially for the large concentrations of raptors, especially during the winter months. Birds are highly visible on the open savannas. Journeys guides are familiar with most of the species.
Administration and Protection
As a result of the biodiversity and ecological significance of the area, the park has been listed by UNESCO as one of the World Heritage Sites.