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Serengeti National Park

The Serengeti National Park The Serengeti National Park is a large national park in Serengeti area, Tanzania. It is most famous for its annual migration of over one and a half million white bearded (or brindled) wildebeest and 250,000 zebra. Serengeti National Park is widely regarded as the best wildlife reserve in Africa due to its density of predators and prey.

History: The Maasai people had been grazing their livestock in the open plains which they knew as “endless plain” for around 200 years when the first European explorers visited the area. The name Serengeti is an approximation of the word used by the Maasai to describe the area. German geographer and explorer Dr. Oscar Baumann entered the area in 1892. Baumann killed three rhinos during a stay in the Ngorongoro crater.

The first Briton to enter the Serengeti, Stewart Edward White, recorded his explorations in the northern Serengeti in 1913. Stewart 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.

Because the hunting of lions made them so scarce, the British decided to make a partial Game Reserve of 800 acres (3.2 km2) in the area in 1921 and a full one in 1929. These actions became the basis for Serengeti National Park,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. As part of the creation of the park, and in order to preserve wildlife, the resident Maasai were moved to the Ngorongoro highlands. There is still considerable controversy surrounding this move, with claims made of coercion and deceit on the part of the colonial authorities.

The Serengeti 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, Tarangire and Arusha national parks, as well as Ngorongoro Conservation Area

Size: The park covers 14,763 km2 (5,700 sq mi) of grassland plains and savanna as well as riverine forest and woodlands.

 

Location: The park lies in the north of the country, bordered to the north by the national Tanzania and Kenyan border, where it is continuous with the Maasai Mara National Reserve. To the south-east of the park is Ngorongoro Conservation Area, to the south-west lies Maswa Game Reserve, and to the western borders are Ikorongo and Grumeti Game Reserves, to the north-east lies Loliondo Game Control Area.

Human habitation is forbidden in the National Park with the exception of staff for TANAPA, 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.

The park is usually described as divided in three regions:

  • Serengeti plains: the endless, 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 which are very common in the region, and they are great observation posts for predators, as well as a refuge for hyrax and pythons.
  • Western corridor: the "black cotton" (actually black clay) soil covers the swampy savannah of this region. Grumeti river is home to enormous Nile crocodiles, colobus monkey, and the martial eagle. The migration passes through from May to July.
  • Northern Serengeti: the landscape is dominated by open woodlands (predominantly Commiphora) and hills, ranging from Seronera in the South, to the Mara river in the limit with Kenya. Apart from the migratory wildebeest and zebra (which occur from July to August, and in November), the bushy savannah is the best place to find elephant, giraffe and dik dik.

Wildlife: 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: the Serengeti is believed to hold the largest population of lions in Africa due in part to the abundance of prey species. Currently there are more than 3000 lions living in this ecosystem.
  • African Leopard: these reclusive predators are commonly seen in the Seronera region but are present throughout the national park with the current population at around 1000.
  • African Elephant: the herds are recovering from population lows in the 1980s caused by poaching, and are largely located in the northern regions of the park
  • 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.
  • African Buffalo: still abundant and present in healthy numbers, but numbers have been somewhat reduced due to disease

The park also supports many further species, including cheetah, Thomson's and Grant's gazelle, topi, eland, waterbuck, hyena, baboon, impala, African wild dog and giraffe. The park also boasts about 500 bird species, including ostrich, secretary bird, Kori bustard, crowned crane, marabou stork, martial eagle, lovebirds and many species of vultures.

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. The administrative body for all parks in Tanzania is Tanzania National Parks (TANAPA). The National Park is also gazetted as an IUCN Category II protected area, which means that it should be managed, either through a legal instrument or through another effective means in order to protect the ecosystem or ecological processes as a whole.

Myles Turner was one of the Park's first game wardens and is credited with establishing anti-poaching defences. His autobiography, My Serengeti Years: the Memoirs of an African Game Warden provides a detailed history of Serengeti National Park's early years.

Proposed Highway, Road Controversy and Plan Cancellation
As of late 2010, the Tanzanian president Jakaya Kikwete proposed to build a new road through Serengeti National Park. While he says that the road will lead to much-needed development in poor communities, others, including conservation groups and foreign governments such as that of Kenya, argue that the road may irreparably damage the great migration and the ecosystem of the Serengeti. It is believed that the president is doing it for personal gain in the next election in spite of being aware that he will ruin the great wildlife of the Serengeti ecosystem.

During late June 2011, the government has decided to cancel the road from Musoma and Arusha crossing Serengeti due to the global outcry.Today the Serengeti still lives but scientist are still worried that in future that the population of villagers and people will increase near the Serengeti and a new president which decides to have the plan back which will be during the next century or two.

Map Showing Location