Serengeti National Park

A PRODUCTIVE ECOSYSTEM

Located on the border between African countries Kenya and Tanzania, the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania’s Serengeti plain spans an area of nearly 15,000 sq.km. The grassland and woodland savannah of the region, interspersed with rivers, is home to several species of animals such as cheetahs, wildebeests and zebras and the threatened black rhinoceros.

Set up in 1951, the Park attracts tourists from across the globe throughout the year for not just its diverse wildlife but also for hosting one of the most significant land animal migration. It is one of the largest and the most diverse places in the world to witness the coming together of large predator and prey. The Serengeti National Park was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site of “outstanding universal value” in 1981. The Park faces threats due to natural causes such as wildfires, and human-related issues such as excessive tourism, water management, poaching etc.

WHY IS IT UNIQUE?

Serengeti National Park is the only place in the African continent where land-animal migration continues to happen to this day. Every year, more than 10 lakh wildebeest, along with thousands of other herbivores and ungulates such as zebra and gazelles, go on a 1000-km circuitous journey between the Park in Tanzania and Kenya’s Masai Mara Game Reserve, crossing many rivers including the Mara river, braving swift currents and hungry crocodiles. As this drama unfolds, these animals are doggedly pursued by several land predators such as lions, cheetahs and hyenas. The migration sees the animals moving to greener pastures in Kenya during the dry season in Serengeti. However, it is stated that the migration does not really have a beginning or end since through the year the animals keep moving to some region or the other falling within the migration route. Throughout the migration, several adults and newborns perish but much more survive only to keep alive the world’s most astounding spectacle that is said to have existed for several centuries.

WILDLIFE

In addition to carnivores such as lions, leopards, cheetahs and crocodiles, and herbivores such as wildebeest, gazelles and zebras, one can spot wild dogs, elands, topis, warthogs, antelopes, elephants, giraffes, African buffaloes, rhinoceroses, hippopotamuses and baboons within the periphery of the Park.

The Park also nutures a few hundred species of both resident and visiting birds. They include ostriches, grebes, pelicans, cormorants, darters, bitterns, herons, egrets, storks, ibises, spoonbills, flamingoes, teals, ducks, geese, shovelers, pochards, vultures, harriers, eagles, hawks, kites, kestrels, falcons, quails, francolins, crakes, coots, moorhens, bustards, jacanas, snipes, sandpipers, plovers, terns, gulls, sandgrouses, doves, turacos, nightjars, swifts, kingfishers, bee-eaters, rollers, hoopoes, hornbills, barbets, woodpeckers, larks, swallows, martins, orioles, babblers, shrikes, robins, wheatears, warblers, flycatchers, pipits, weavers, starlings and sunbirds.

DID YOU KNOW?

• OSTRICH, OSTRICH EVERYWHERE: Tanzania is said to have a very high ostrich population, believed to be one of the highest in the African continent.

• YOUNG AND ENERGETIC: A newborn wildebeest is said to find co-ordination faster than many other ungulates. Apparently, it is on its feet in just two or three minutes immediately after birth. Within just five minutes it joins its herd for a run. Why, soon after it can even outrun a predator such as a lioness!

• A NAMESAKE: Lower Saxony, a State in Germany has a Serengeti Park. However, unlike its Tanzanian namesake, this is a zoo and leisure park, which means the animals here are not in their natural habitats.

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