The famed Serengeti National Park in the Republic of Tanzania extends to almost 5050 square miles (13,000 sq km) and forms part of a broader ecosystem which is an extension of the Ngorongoro Crater and stretches across the border to Kenya.
The park is mainly considered to form three regions. The name Serengeti comes from the Maasai “siringent,” and it means “the land that runs forever.”
These are the breeding grounds for many of the animals of the area including elephants, buffaloes, giraffes, lions, cheetahs, crocodiles and hippos. It is also the place they raise their young. There is abundant food for both carnivores and herbivores.
The land formations comprise of granite outcrops called “kopjes” and these feature prominently in the landscapes. There are also numerous rocks and sand that attract deadly snakes and lizards.
When observed from the northern areas, the landscapes change first it is grasslands then it changes to savannah with black soil. The western areas form one of the major migratory routes for wildebeests. It is also home to some perilous crocodile-infested rivers such as the Grumeti river. The river is home to large herds of hippos.
If you move further to the north, you encounter northern Serengeti that is up to the Mara River on the Kenyan side of the border. Here you will encounter open woodlands and hills inhabited by elephants and giraffes. A closer study of the Serengeti National park reveals that if you move towards the northwest, you will arrive at Lake Victoria, Africa’s largest freshwater lake. The Serengeti National park stops just miles before you reach the lake.
The Serengeti National Park plays a significant role in the most outstanding land animal migration on earth between Tanzania and Kenya. The movement involves both wildebeests and zebras and other smaller species. While the zebra often precedes the wildebeests, hordes of wildebeest gather and can stretch for more than 25 miles on the shores of the river Mara.
Calving for wildebeests is from January to March with as many as 9,000 calves born every day. But the calves are nurtured in such a way that all must be strong for the 500 km round trip.
Crossing the river for most animals is a hazardous experience due to hooves getting stuck in the muddy land. Getting across the waters infested with crocodiles is very difficult. Watching a wildebeest falling prey to a crocodile is one of the highlights of a photo-journalist safari experience. But fortunately, most wildebeests manage to cross the river and live to return some 12 months later.
Human population in the park.
Officially the park is not meant for human habitation, but pockets of Maasai people who graze cattle are to be found in isolated clusters. Their semi-nomadic lifestyle is almost entirely dependent on their animals. Although the younger generation appears to have developed an urban culture, the old traditional lifestyles persist in many of the village clusters.
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