Serengeti National Park Tanzania
Serengeti National Park is found in Tanzania which is located in the eastern region of the African continent along geographical co-ordinates of 02o20’S 34o34’E. Serengeti National Park lies in the north western part of Tanzania. It is bordered by Kenya’s Masai Mara game reserve which is just an extension of Serengeti northwards into Kenya. In the west, Serengeti is bordered by the Grumeti game reserve, Maswa game reserve lies in the south of Serengeti and Ngorongoro conservation area and lake Eyasi border Serengeti National Park in the south east.
Serengeti national park stretches to cover an area of 14750sqkm or 5700sqmi making it Tanzania’s largest conservation area in east Africa. Serengeti National Park is divided into 3 sectors according to unique characteristics and wildlife bio-diversity exhibited by each of these sectors. The northern sector is distinctively identified given its landscape that’s is covered predominantly by open woodlands of the commiphora tree species that run from seronera area in the south to the banks of river Mara in the north on the Kenyan border. The northern Serengeti is unique given its wildebeests and zebra migration that happens between the months July, august and November. This area is famous for its abundant elephants, giraffes and dik dik that roam these plains. Another sector is the western corridor, this corridor is drained by the river grumenti and this makes it the perfect sanctuary for the Nile crocodiles that patrol the banks of this river, other species here are the patas monkeys, hippos and this area also experiences the wildebeest migration in the months of May-July. The final sector is the Serengeti plains, this is almost a green carpet like field that goes on endlessly as far as your eyes can go and it was because of this unique view that the local Masai people decided to call this place “Siringet” which means “the place where the land runs on forever”. The Serengeti plains are the breeding ground of the wildebeest as they habituate in these plains from December to may as they wait for the next great wildebeest migration time to come around. Apart from the wildebeests, the Serengeti plains are home to other hooved mammals like zebras, impalas, hartebeest, topi, beffalo and water bucks.
Given its unique land scape and bio-diverstiy Serengeti national park is home to a wide range of wildlife which is believed to be at least 2million species and these include Africa’s big 5’s i.e. lions- Serengeti has the biggest lion population in Africa which stands at 3000 individuals, leopards- there are about 1000 of these night stalkers roaming the Serengeti grasslands, rhinos, buffaloes and elephants about 5000 of these land giants are present here. All these make up the big 5’s of the African wilderness. Other mammal species here include 250000 plain zebras, about 0.5 million Thomson’s and grant’s gazalles, topis, Masai giraffes, impalas, warthogs, common elands, lesser kudus, klipspringer, roan antelope, over 500 bird species roam the skies above the Serengeti plains and these include Masai ostrich, secretary birds, kori bustards, southern ground hornbill, crowned cranes, yellow billed stork, lesser flamingo, martial eagles and many vulture species, marabou stocks, lovebirds. The Serengeti plains have been and continue to be the homeland of the Masai people who have occupied and grazed their cattle in these lands for the last 300- 400 years
Serengeti National Park lies on a relatively lower altitude between 1100m or 3600ft- 2000m or 6600ft and also close to the equator hence it experiences a tropical savanna climate which is characterized by short wet seasons in which Serengeti receive about 900mm or 35in-1400mm or 85in of rainfall which comes in the 2 seasons from October-December and between March- May and long dry spells. The dry season is experienced in the months of January- late February or early march and June- September. The average minimum temperatures here are between 14-16oc or 57-61of while the maximum average temperatures are between 26-29oc or 79-81oc.
Serengeti National Park got its first contact with foreign national in 1892 when an Austrian explorer, Oscar Bauman visited the Serengeti plains and named it Serengeti as he mimicked the local Masai name for the area which they referred to as siringet which means land that runs forever. Stewart Edward white also visited the Serengeti plains in the 1920s and during his visit, he carried out a massive lion hunting escapade in which he and his hunting companions managed to put down 50 lions. This acted as a wakeup call for the British colonial government and in 1921 it decided to gazette some 800sqkm of the Serengeti plains to act as o conservation area for the lion population that could have easily been wiped if the trend which was set by Edward white was to continue and the colonial government succeeded in 1929 when the area was officially declared a game reserve in 1929. These initiatives by the colonial government were the foundation stones which gave rise to the birth of Serengeti national park which was created in 1951.
Attractions in Serengeti national park in Tanzania
Serengeti National Park is home to at least 2million species and these include africa’s big 5’s i.e. 3000 lions, 1000 leopards, rhinos, buffaloes and 5000 elephants. Other mammal species here include 250000 plain zebras, about 0.5 million thomson’s and grant’s gazalles, topis, masai giraffes, impalas, warthogs, common elands, lesser kudus, klipspringer, roan antelope, over 500 bird species and these include masai ostrich, secretary birds, kori bustards, southern ground hornbill, crowned cranes, yellow billed stork, lesser flamingo, martial eagles and many vulture species, marabou stocks, lovebirds. The Serengeti plains have been and continue to be the homeland of the Masai people.
Wildebeest; The wildebeests are members of the antelope group and belong to the connochaetes genus. In east Africa they are 2 closely related wildebeests and that is the blue wildebeest and the black wildebeest but the blue wildebeest is the most common one in the Serengeti plains. These two species can be identified basing on few things like their coat colors and also on the nature of their horns, the blue wildebeest horns protrude to the side then curve downward before curving upwards as they come to an end, the horns of black wildebeests on the other hand curve forward first then downwards and finally upwards as they come to their tips. The blue wildebeests also bigger than the black wildebeests, the male blue wildebeests weigh about 250kg with a standing height of 150cm, female blue wildebeest stand at 135cm at the shoulders and weigh around 180kg while the male black wildebeest stand between 112-120cm at shoulder height and weigh 180kg and their female counterparts stand in at 108cm at the shoulders with a body weight of 155kg. these wildebeests are famous for their annual migration that takes place from June- august. This migration involves these animals to trek great distances about 1500 of kilometers as they cross from the southern Serengeti plains into the southern parts of the Maasai Mara reserve in southern in Kenya. This migration is majorly done following the rainfall season patterns in the east African region. During these migrations, the wildebeest organize themselves in large herds and trek in this group to areas of new pastures. These animals also show a high level of swarm intelligence as they perform similar function without anyone or anything dictating it to them for example, they can all decide to cross the river from the same spot regardless of whether it is infested with many predators like crocodiles or not.
Masai giraffe; Masai giraffe can be distinguished from other giraffe sub species from their star-like stamped patches which are irregular and become darker especially in males as they age. The Masai giraffe is generally brown in colour with several shades of colour which can range from dried oak to orange and cream. The lower parts of their limbs are sticky like or very skinny but the upper parts of these limbs are study so as to support their massive weight. The giraffes have a unique walking pattern where as they have the ability to move both the front and hind limbs of one side of the body at once and then counter balance it by moving their long neck in the opposite direction. The adult male giraffe has an average height of 4.3-5.7m or 14.1-18.7ft and weighs in at 1192kg or 2628ib while an adult female weighs in at 828kg or 1825ib hence showing sexual dimorphism amongst giraffes. The giraffe also has a long tongue that is measured at an average of 45cm or 18in and it has a purplish black color which is believed to protect it from sunburns. The massai giraffes have the longest tail among all land mammals which measures up to 3.3ft long. Due to their big body mass giraffes also have a massive heart that weighs up to 5ibs so as to pump 60 litres of blood needed to move around the giraffe’s body in just one minute. Giraffes also have the ability to sleep while standing and even when they lie down, they will put their long neck on their hip. The Masai giraffe are completely herbivores and spend their biggest part of the day about 16-20 hours feeding so as to satisfy their big appetites. The giraffe has a gestation period of 14-15 months and the birth period is between 1-6 hours after which a single calf is born and the mother will give birth while standing hence the calf will have to be ready for a rough landing when it comes out. The calves are born almost ready to walk because it takes a calf between 20 minutes – 1 hour to start walking. Masai giraffes have a life span of up to 25 years in their natural habitat.
Grants gazelle; Grants gazelles. the grant gazelle has a beige orange on its back and a white belly, they also have lyre shaped horns that are stout at the base and have clear rings on the horns. These horns have a length of41-81cm or 18-32in. The grant gazelles live in short grassed plains so as to have clear visibility of predators which stalk them for prey. The female grant gazelle weighs 35-50kg or 77-110ib while the male gazelle weighs 50-80kg or 110-180ib with an average standing height of 75-95cm or 30-37in. Unlike most of the subspecies that graze towards or around water sources, the grant gazelles graze going further away from the water sources that are usually roamed by predators. The gazelles have adapted to live without water for long days and they get most of their water from the pasture they graze on. The gazelles are territorial animals and males herd territories with many females mainly for mating. Mature gazelles will settle conflicts with superiority displays hence physical interactions are quite rare among these animals. Grant gazelles reach sexual maturity at 18 months of age. The male gazelles will test by smelling on the urine of the female to ascertain whether she in oestrus and when the female is ready to mate, it lifts her tail signaling the male to mount her. These animals have a gestation period of 198days after which, a single fawn is usually born. The fawn is usually born while its still very weak and can’t move but it will be able to so in a few days’ time and it will follow the mother to the herd where it starts fraternizing with other fawns. The fawn is weaned after 6 months but might stay with the mother until it reaches adolescence.
Nile crocodiles; Serengeti National Park has a big population of these enormous reptiles plying the water of the Grumeti and Mara rivers. The Nile crocodile is one of the biggest reptiles in the world. These reptiles have a dark bronze color on the upper body part while the under part is of diggy yellow. The crocodile’s body is armored with hard scales to deter bacterial infections and also as a defensive mechanism. The crocodiles in Africa have varying sizes depending on their location but on average the male crocodile is 3.5-5m or 11.5-16.4ft long and weighs in at 225-750kg or 550-1650Ib but the females are 30% less than their male companions in size. The crocodiles have an elongated mouth which is armed with 64-68 teeth, where by the upper jaw has about 26 or 28 teeth and the lower jaw has 28 or 30 of them and 5 teeth on the front view of the upper jaw. Most the teeth in a crocodile’s mouth are canines designed to bite and hold tight their prey. The Nile crocodiles are formidable hunters who will stay still just below the water surface as they stalk their prey waiting for the best opportunity to strike at the unsuspecting prey. These reptiles can feed on various prey from mammals as big as buffaloes which can be almost half their body size to small antelopes. When a crocodiles captures its prey, it will first drag into the deep water and drown the prey then it holds it and perform what is known as a death roll in which the crocodile turns its body 360o while holding still its prey so as it can tear it into chunks that it swallows full since its teeth are not designed for chewing. After eating to their fill, Nile crocodiles can spend over a month without eating again especially when food is scarce, this is possible because these crocodiles store a lot of fats in their tails after eating and they have the ability to slow down their metabolism process. These reptiles lay eggs and the females burry them and guard them from predators like snakes and eagles. The crocodiles are social animals that can share a kill or even a basking spot. They have a life span of between 75-100 years.
Jackals; Jackals are small or medium sized omnivores predators that have mastered the art of opportunistic scavenging always feeding off carcass kills made by other bigger predators like lions, leopards and cheetahs. The jackals have black coloured backs or sometimes golden colored backs. The rest of their body is reddish brown or ginger in color these opportunistic hunters have a body length of 70-85cm or 27-33in with a long tail of 25cm or 10in and a shoulder height of 40cm or 16in and a body weight of 5-12kg or 11-26in. jackals feed on almost anything of flesh that is available regardless of its state whether decomposing or not. They can also eat grass when meat is scarce. Jackals usually make life long couples, they have a gestation period of about 57-90 days after which the female will give birth to 2-4 puppies in a den, she created underground. These puppies are born blind and it may take them a week to gain their site. The pups are usually weaned at 2 months old. Jackals become sexually mature between 6-11 months and usually will leave their parents. The jackals have a life span of about 10-12years in their natural habitats.
Hyenas; Hyenas feature in many of our savannah plains national parks and Serengeti National Park is no exception to this canine hunter. Hyenas are closely related to canines in terms of behavior and body structure as both hyenas and other canines kill most of their prey using their teeth than their claws. They have a wolf like body structure with their fore limbs being longer than the hind limbs and the entire hind quarters are visibly lower and the back slopes downwards towards their rumps. There are two different species of hyenas i.e. spotted hyenas and striped hyenas. Hyenas can be identified from their body structure that is they have large ears, they have thick fur that is coarse and sparse and poorly developed on their underbelly. Spotted hyena exhibits sexual dimorphism with males being large than females while striped hyenas exhibit reversed sexual dimorphism with females being larger than males. Spotted hyenas are more of hunters while striped hyenas like to scavenge from kills made by other predators. Even though in human society, hyenas are depicted as cowardly animals, this isn’t entirely true as these animals have been widely documented chasing off big and fierce predators like lions and leopards from their kills and have the kill for themselves, this doesn’t strike as an act of cowardice by any means. Usually hyenas are nocturnal animals but they have can also be seen in the morning hours doing their hunting and stocking rounds. Hyenas have a set of 9 teeth comprising of mainly canines.
African bush elephants; African elephants are the largest land mammals in the world with a male elephant weighing in at 4,700-6,048kg or 10,362-13,334Ib and a shoulder height of 3.2-4.0m or 10.5-13.1ft while their female counterparts weigh in at 2,160-3,232kg or 4,762-7,125Ib and a shoulder height of 2.2-2.6m or 7.2-8.5ft. these land giants have 24 teeth in their mouths and usually lose their teeth 4-6 times in their life time which lies between 60-70 years. What sets these land giants apart from the rest of crowd is their elongated tusks which are in fact their second set of incisors. This means that the tusks are very strong as they are used to up root trees and also as weapons they use while fighting. The tusks weigh between 23-45 kg or 55-99Ib with a length of 1.5-2.4m or 5-8 ft. elephants usually live in groups called families which comprise of 10 or more closely related females with their calves and each of these families is led by an older female called a matriarch. Elephants have the ability to distinguish and communicate with each other using low frequency infrasonic calls. With a body mass that is compared to nothing else on land, African elephants have to feed on an average of 450 kg or 992Ib of foliage to sustain their huge bodies and also drink to over 50 liters of water per day. In fact, these elephants have the ability to smell water to up to 20 km or 12miles away. Elephants have an exposed skin so in order to control over heating of their body, they flap their big ears so as to carry away the heat or bathe in water ponds. It is believed that when an elephant flaps its ears, it can lose about 10oF of heat hence always staying cool even in the hottest temperatures. They also employ their elongated trunk to carry water and pour it over their ears to try and cool themselves. These land giants have very thin hairs around body parts such as eyes and noses and these are mainly for ensuring that germs and other bacteria don’t find it easy to enter the elephant’s body through these parts. The elephant trunk is a master piece of creation as it is equipped with 40000 muscles which is way more than an entire human body has at only 639 muscles. This makes the trunks a very strong and agile part of the elephant that can do many things. The elephant trunk is also used for breathing, snorkeling and also as an extended arm for holding, lifting or pushing anything they want to carry. A female elephant reaches sexual maturity at the age of 10-12 years and can reproduce after every 3-6 years throughout its lifetime. All elephants have a very poor metabolism and that’s why they eat a lot of food but ¾ of it will come out of the elephants undigested as dung. Due to the poor metabolic system, elephant calves have been recorded doing something bizarre and that is eating dung that has been passed out by their mothers but this is all because elephant calves can’t process raw grass hence, they have to resort to eating pre-processed food that has been passed out as dung. They have a gestation period of up to 22 months being the longest in all land mammals. Just like humans and apes, elephants are also highly intelligent species with a brain that weighs about 5kg or 11Ib which about 4 times heavier than that of human making it the heaviest brain of any land mammal. With such a brain, these land giants are believed to exhibit character traits like grief, learning, sense of humor, compassion, self-awareness, a very strong and vivid memory, play and use of tools and possibly a language.
Cape buffalo; The cape buffalo is also referred to as the African buffalo and they are a very common sight throughout this park. It is usually mistaken to be a close relative to domesticated cattle but its rather related to actually other bigger bovines. Buffaloes have a coarse black coat unlike their close relatives the forest buffaloes which have a reddish coat. As the male buffaloes grow older, the bases of their horns grows closer and it can even unite forming a feature called a “boss” which is very had to penetrate even with a gun bullet of less 16mm. you can differentiate a male buffalo from a female one by observing the structure of their horns, the male buffalo horns grow while curving outwards while the ones of the female grow while curving inside. The African buffalo is a big animal with a shoulder height of 1.0-1.7m or 3.3-5.6ft. it has a body length of 1.7-3.4m or 5.6-11.2ft and its tail has a length of 70-110cm or 28-43in. An adult male African buffalo can weigh as much as between 500-1000kg but the females usually weigh less than this. Cape buffaloes are usually found in the great plains of African savanna like Murchison falls park. Buffaloes usually stay in large herds that consist anywhere from 5-100 individuals and this is primarily for protection purposes from their predators. Although buffaloes have a very poor eye sight, this is compensated by possessing an acute sense of smell coupled with a keen sense of hearing, in fact, the buffaloes can stop whatever they are doing and stand still for many minutes or sometimes even hours just to listen even to the tiniest of sounds that may be made by any predator that may be stalking them. when buffaloes are attacked, they male buffaloes form defensive wall by being at the flanks of the herd while the females and calves are within the inner part of the herd. the male buffaloes can even sometimes turn and chase the attacking predators They have a gestation period of 11.5 months and a life span of over 25 years in their natural habitats.
Leopards; Leopards are some of the big cat family predators that roam the plains of queen Elizabeth national park and they are at the top of the food chain together. Leopards are usually taken to be the same with cheetahs but they are completely different as cheetahs have tear marks on their faces small round spots while leopards have no this distinctive mark on their faces and have larger rosettes on their body. The skin color of leopards’ ranges from pale yellow to golden or yellowish brown with rosettes and this enables these super predators to camouflage so that they can stalk their prey without ever being noticed. Male leopards are muscular with short limbs and a broad head, the males have an average shoulder height of 60-70cm or 24-28in and weigh in at 37-90kg while the females have an average shoulder height of57-64cm or 22-25in and weigh in between26-60kg. the cheetah has a very long tail that’s white tipped with a length of 60-100cm or 24-39in and this enables the leopards make quick sharp turns at high speed while on a chase. Leopards can sometimes have black color and this is caused by melanism which is a recessive gene in these animals and when a leopard is having this phenomenon, it turns from being called a leopard to a black panther. Leopards are usually solitary animals and they have a gestation period of 90-105 days and can live in their natural habitat for 12-17 years.
Hippopotami; Hippos in Serengeti national park are commonly seen in Grumeti river in the north west of the park. Hippos are large animals only behind the African elephant that can weigh anywhere between 1300-1500kg or 2870-3310ib for both sexes. The hippos are semi aquatic as they both live on land and in water. Hippos are herbivores animals can come on land in the evening to graze, they can be easily identified basing on barrel shaped body, short legs and long muzzles or mouths, their body is hairless with a purplish gray to blue black color which is also thick about 2in or 6cm. due to lack of body hairs, hippos secret an element that is reddish orange to brown to act as a protective layer both from the scotching sun and bacterial infection. This phenomenon is referred to as “blood sweating” hippos have a very powerful jaw which can open as wide as 180o and its filled with monstrous teeth with their incisors growing up to 40cm or 1ft4in and canines growing up to 50cm or 1ft8in. despite their short legs and big sizes hippos can burst to 30km/hr in short distances. Hippos are highly territorial while in water but not on land, they have a gestation period of 243days and can live up to 40-50 years.
Kopje rocks; Kopje rocks are what we can refer to a small rock hills that are dotted throughout the Serengeti plains. These rock hills are made out of the granite and are very hard which explains their existence in an environment that experiences dramatic weather changes from very hot daytime weather temperatures to chilly night weather temperatures combined with rains in nothing less of spectacular. The kopjes were made out of volcanic rocks and ash during the early landscape formulation process of volcanicity. When the volcanic rock and ash cooled down, it formed solid granite rocks which were very hard and when the softer rocks around these granite inselbergs were eroded, the hard granite rocks appeared from the ground. All this has not happened in a few years but rather has occurred lasted for over 550million years. The kopjes in Serengeti are the perfect vintage points for the greater wilderness hence they are normally patrolled by predators such as leopards, lions, cheetahs.
Warthog; Common warthogs belong to the pig family. These have sparse hairs which are usually black or brown. The warthogs have a large head with a mane that runs from the spine to the middle of the back. The warthogs have 2 pairs of protruding tusks that come of their mouths, one pair comes from the upper jaw, this pair is very tall growing to a height of 25.5cm or 10in. the tusk from the lower jaw is quite short. These pigs have a body length of 0.9-1.5m or 3-4.9ft with a shoulder height of 63.5-85cm or 25-35.5in. females have an average body weight of 45-75kg or 99-165ib while males weigh between 60-150kg or 130-330ib. The warthogs have an omnivores diet composed of grasses, fungi, insects, carrots and eggs. The warthogs exhibit a unique character while feeding as they have to bend their front limbs and move on their wrists to feed. As a defensive technique, warthogs will enter unoccupied barrows in a reverse direction so as it can easily burst out in case it gets scared. Warthogs are not usually territorial animals but they do live in groups called sounders. the sounders are usually composed of females and their young one and also other females. Adult males will only live in solitary but will join the sounders during the mating season. During these mating seasons the male warthogs use 2 different tactics, one of them is the staying tactic in which the adult male warthog will stay with the females and fight off any other males from mating with his females, it can also hoard resources that are very crucial to these females such as water ponds. The other tactic is the roaming tactic in which the adult male warthog looks for chases after sows that are in oestrus and tries to mate with them. After copulation, the sow goes through a gestation period of about 6 months after which it gives birth to 2-4 piglets. The warthogs have a life span of about 7-11 years.
Lions; These can be frequently sighted in Serengeti National Park. Lions are part of the big cate family and are muscular, deep chested with rounded heads. Most of the African lion males can distinguished from their females by the presence of a mane around the necks and heads of male African lions which is clearly absent in females but there quite many cases in Africa where the males also don’t have a mane or have a very short and thin one. The male lions are usually bigger than the females but their sizes vary according to location. In east Africa, adult female lions have a body length of 160-184cm or 63-72in weighing in at 119.5kg or 263Ib on average while the adult males have a body length of 184-208cm or 72-82in weighing in at 174.9kg or 386Ib on average. Lions are social animals who live in groups called prides. A pride is always led by a dominant male and their highly territorial animals controlling vast expanses that are strategic with a lot of prey and water. Male dominant lions are responsible for protecting the pride and they will fight off other male invaders, in case the dominant male is defeated by the invading lions, the victor lions will kill off all the cubs that are off springs to the defeated dominant male as a way of ending its blood lineage. Lions are carnivores and are at the top of the food chain feeding on almost all browsers and grazers within their domain due to their ability to hunt as a pride and carry out well coordinated and planned attacks which enables them to take down prey that can even be between 2-4 times bigger than them such as zebras, elephants and buffaloes. Lions usually hunt at night because of their well-developed sense of sight especially at night where their vision is almost 6 times better than that of humans due to the presence of white patches around their eyes which enable them to absorb even the smallest amount of light available during the cover of darkness. Hunting among lions is an affair carried out by female lions mostly and juvenile males and when a kill has been made by the lionesses in a pride, it’s always the dominant male lion who will eat first up to his fill then the rest of the pride will feed on what has remained after the he has finished eating. They have a gestation period of 97 days and a life span of about 10-14 years.
Klipspringer; The klipspringer is another member of the antelope family that has a yellowish gray to reddish brown coat which gives it a perfect cormuflage from its predators.. its coat is thick with hollow and brittle hairs that will usually stand when the animal is sick or it has heated up. The klipspringer has short spiky horns that measure 7.5-9cm or 3-3.5in. the klipspringer has a shoulder height of 43-60cm or 17-24in with a body length lying between 75-115cm or 30-45in weighing between 8-18kg or 18-40ib. this species can be identified from features such as pre-obital glands near the eyes, short ears with white lips and chin. The klipspringer is a true diurnal feeder that feed during day time and mainly feeds on young plants, fruits, and flowers, the grass is usually eaten during wet season. The klipspringers are monogamous animals that usually have one partner for a long time or even forever till one of them dies and they usually live close to each other a distance of less than 5m or 16ft from each other. The klipspringers have a gestation period of about 6 months after which a single calf is born. The calf mother will hide her calf in a dense vegetation for about 3 months while keeping watching out for predators together with her male companion. These calves are weaned after 4-5 months.
Lesser kudu; This also belongs to the antelope subspecies and can be identified using the spiral horns that are only present in males measuring 50-70cm, these horns are twisted between 2- 2.5 times, these horns are slender and have a darker brown color with a white tip. The coat in females and juveniles of lesser kudus is rufous while yellowish grey or darker in males, they have a distinctive long white stripe that runs across their backs with 11-14 stripes that run towards the sides of their bellies. A black stripe runs from each eye to the center of the face, the area around their lips is white and their underbellies are also white. These animals have a body length of 110-140cm or43-55in. these animals display sexual dimorphism with males having a shoulder height of about 95-105cm or 37-41in while females stand in at 90-100cm or 35-39in, the males weigh in at between 92-108kg or 203-238ib while females weigh between 56-70kg or 123-154ib. they have a bushy tail with a long white underneath and a black tip at the end measuring between 25-40cm. these animals are usually active at night and in the early morning hours, when scared the lesser kudus will stand still to ascertain what the danger is and on seeing a predator approaching they will bark then make leaps of up to 2m high or 6.6ft. the males like living a solitary life and they have a lifespan of about 10 years in the wild.
Cheetahs; Cheetahs are the world’s fastest animals with the ability to accelerate up to 100-120km/hr in short circuits of about 100m or 330ft and this is all possible because the cheetah has its body built for speed in the following ways: the cheetah has a slender body, small rounded head which makes it perfectly aero dynamic with low air resistance, and long thin legs to give it big and quick strides and long tail for stability during high speed chase. The cheetah is the smallest of all big cats and its usually confused with the leopards but here are some striking and distinctive features that separate the 2 cats from one another; the cheetah has small solid black spots on its body unlike the leopard which has large rosettes, the cheetah has black eye streaks or tear marks on its face but the leopard lacks these features on its face. The leopard has a body length 112-150cm or 44-59in with an average shoulder height of 70-90cm or 22-28in and an average body weight of 21-72kg or 46-159Ib. This therefore makes a cheetah taller and heavier than a leopard in terms of body size. The cheetah has its coat colored in a yellowish or rufous greyish white with nearly 2000 solid black spots. The leopards can be distinctively identified using the pattern of their black spots which is unique to each cheetah just like finger prints are in humans. Cheetahs have a set of 8 teeth with mostly canines which makes them a perfect predator for crushing the wind pipes of their prey which usually consists of aniamls like gazelles, Uganda kobs, kiplisingers and impalas. The cheetahs have a gestation period of about 95days and a life span of 10-12 years in their natural habitat.
Topi; This animal is another one of the antelope subspecies and the topi resembles the hartebeest but it can be distinctively identified basing on its hump at the base of its neck and the dark purple patches it has on the upper legs with the rest of the body colored in a reddish-brown coat. It also has an elongated neck and their faces have a dark mask like coloration with ringed and lyrate shaped horns that are present in both males and females alike. The topi has a body length of 150-210cm or 59-83in and shoulder height of 100-130cm or 39-51in with an average body weight of 68-160kg. males are usually larger and darker than females. During mating the female topis will aggressively fight each other so as to mate with dominant male topis that they have ever mate with before but this might force the male to fight off some of these dominant females so as to increase his chances of mating with new females. These animals have a gestation period of about 238 days and when they giving birth, the mother will leave the herd and seek a hiding place to give birth, after giving birth, the calve may have to stand immediately and follow its mother as these animals have both the follower and hider parenting characteristics. The mother will look after her calf for a year or until a new calf is born.
Activities in the Serengeti national park in Tanzania
For any activity to be carried out in any part of the Serengeti national park, entrance fees have to be paid to any of the park centers. Entrance fees range from 60$ for adult foreign nonresidents, 16$ for young children aged 1-16years who are foreign nonresidents for a single day or 24hours.
Watching the wildebeest migration; Are you intrigued by what triggers 500,000 wildebeests to just risk it all as they try trek for hundreds of miles and even cross the crocodile infested Mara river as if something is chasing after them? Well, Serengeti national park is the right answer for you, as it puts just at the right spot for to watch the drama as it unfolds right before your eyes. These wildebeests are triggered by weather pattern changes to move from the northern plains of Tanzania cross the river Mara during the months of July and august into Kenya for fresher pastures. But before the yearly journey begins, the wildebeests spend most of their time in the southern plains of the Serengeti breeding and calving between December and March which is a relatively wet season. Around the month of May, the wildebeest trek ensues and these animals get moving to the western corridor of Serengeti plains in May –June, these get further with the journey and by around July- August, they reach the Mara river, at Mara river the wildebeests face their toughest challenge because crocodiles also know about their crossing timing hence they come from far and wide and gather along river banks where these animals cross from to have a feast on their favorite prey which is always in abundance. This gives you more than mother nature’s pure ferociousness as it tries to balance the eco system by having many of these unsuspecting wildebeests lose the battle for life as they are feasted on by the crocodiles lurking in the muddy waters of the Mara river. Since this is a natural process, the wildebeests that have succeeded in crossing the rivers and have safely arrived into the plains of southern Kenya after about 3 months in Kenya will embark on a return journey around October and November back into the northern side of the Serengeti in Tanzania to begin the same process all over again as if their survival doesn’t matter all but the opposite is actually true because their survival depends on this journey.
Game drives; Armed with a population of close to 2 million mammals, Serengeti national park is indeed your true source for all your daily dose African wildlife on a game drive from the famous Africa’s big 5s i.e. 5000elephants, 1000lions, 3000leopards, rhinos, buffaloes, to so many others such as the250000 plain zebras, Maasai girraffes, hippos in their thousands in rivers like grumeti. Most of these are found in the central Serengeti area and seronera area which have the most animal population all year round. Game drives can be done during day or night time as the cover of darkness brings to life the night stalkers such as leopards, bat-eared fox, skunks, bush babies, earning you the best chance of viewing these animals at night while they are out and about doing their night rounds. Night game drives can be organized by the following safari lodges ikoma safari camp, klien’s camp, TAASA lodge.
Hot air ballooning/aerial tour of the Serengeti; Do you want to see those African safari fantasies come true as you see them in movies? well, Serengeti is the place to be, while in Serengeti national park, you shouldn’t miss a chance to take to the skies in a hot air balloon and have an opportune moment to see the sun rise or sunset over the endless plains of the Serengeti and also come close on seeing most of the animals that call this park their home. This African odyssey adventure costs between 275$ per flight which lasts about an hour If you aren’t so comfortable taking to the skies in an open air balloon, then you can opt to make a somewhat low flying level flight in an aircraft using domestic flights over the Serengeti by companies such As Air Excel, Coastal Aviation, Regional Air And Safari Plus which operate flights over the Serengeti to towns such as manyara, Arusha, Dar es salaam, Zanzibar. The cost of flying over the Serengeti plains goes for about 50$ per person in an aircraft that carries between 10-20 persons.
Nature walks; To tour the African wilderness and miss out on a nature walk is a disservice to you that you shouldn’t allow to happen because while on this walking safaris you have the lifetime opportunity to get up close and personal with mother nature as you get to see animals that you can easily miss out while you do a safari drive or even an air ballon trip in the skies. Small insects that traverse the eco system such as a dung beetle, reptiles such the rock pythons and a variety of bird species are the real deal on a walking safari. These walks on the Serengeti plains are usually organized by lodges that are situated in the park such as buffalo luxury camp, Serengeti singita grumeti lodges, ikoma safari camp, klien’s camp, alex walker’s safari camp at an extra cost over the lodging fees.
Horseback safaris; If you aren’t much interested in walking, having a horse back safari ride is the way to go. This ride gives you the luxury of being on a horse back as you ride your way to the heart of the Serengeti plains. You are get to have the feeling of the true African wilderness as you get within close range with your wild neighbors doing their natural rounds. The horse back safaris in the Serengeti are done by some safari lodges within the park.
Olduvia/ oldupia archeological tour; Are you an archeological adventurer? Serengeti national park has got you covered, in the southern plains of the Serengeti lie the olduvia gorge. The olduvia gorge is a step sided ravine that is rich with fossil remains that are dating as far back as 2 million years ago. While in this gorge, you will have the luxury of seeing and walking on the land and in the footsteps of the earliest human species called the hominids who are believed to have walked for the first time on the planet. This gorge is the proud home to the fossils and tools of the early man which date back to 2 million years ago that were discovered by an archeologist Dr. Leakey. Dr leakey discovered remains belonging to over 60 hominid individuals. Next to olduvia is Laetoli archeological site that has frozen the footsteps for immortality as they have been around for the past 3.2 million hence, they can only belong to the earliest species of humans called hominids.
Maasai cultural walk; The Maasai are the original custodians of the Serengeti wilderness as they have habituated in the Serengeti for the last 400-500 years. The Maasai have a very rich culture that mainly rotates around their pastoral life. From their unique cultural wear, the shukas to the body art modifications, to their brave warriors with their mohawk hair-cut. While out in the Serengeti wilderness, endeavor to visit some of these Maasai communities and go on a cultural learning adventure as you will be put the mix of Maasai cultural activities like cow herding, milking, blood tapping, a truly rhythmic and high jumping Maasai dance and when the Maasai dance beats and rhythms get to your inner sense of fun, please feel free to join in and groove to the Maasai African music. During these visits to the Maasai communities, you can also help out to improve the living standards and alleviate poverty among the Maasai by making charity donations to these communities.
Origins of the Maasai
The Maasai are nilotics people who occupy the greater Serengeti plains stretching all the way from southern Kenya into northern Tanzania. The Maasai are subdivided into 16 sub tribes and these include iioshon, ildamat, ilpurko, ilkeekonyokie, ikankere, isiria, ilmoitanik, iloodokilani, iloitokitoki, ilarusa, ilmatatapato, ilwuasinkishu, kore, payakuyu, ilkisonko who are Maasai from Tanzania. The Maasai’s oral history states that the Maasai originated from the Turkana area and then migrated southwards between the 14-15th century to settle in the southern Kenya and northern Tanzania. During the 19th century around 1883-1902 which was referred to as “maasai emutai”, the maasai faced a very challenging period that was marred with a lot of epidemics that were almost wiping out their entire tribe as they suffered from epedemics such as a contagious bovine pleuropneumonia, small pox, rinder pest. During this period, its believed that the Maasai lost almost 90% of all their cattle and the Serengeti plains lost about half of the then animal population. The Maasai have fierce warriors that are revered for their agile fighting skills especially their on-spot marks-manship in spear and club throwing in which they are deadly accurate in distances of about 100m.
The dress code of the Maasai
The Maasai can easily be recognized given their unique dress code which mainly consists of a big sheet called shuka that the Maasai wrap around their bodies. The main colors won defer from age to age as boys normally wrap themselves in black coloured shukas while aged people will use checkered and plain red shukas. They Maasai women are excellent bead workers and make beautiful beads that are worn by both men and women. The Maasai love body art hence they normally tone some of their body parts for beautification purposes like the earlobes which they elongate using things like elephant tusks, bundles of twigs and stones. The Maasai also have a culture of removing the canine teeth because the Maasai believe that these canine teeth are the root cause of certain ailments such as diarrhea, vomiting,
Head shaving among the Maasai
The Maasai carry out head shaving ritual in different stages of life, this is done to represent a change from one life stage or chapter to another. All Maasai people shave their heads except the Maasai warriors who are allowed to grow and braid their hair as a sign of bravery. Head shaving begins from quite a young age that is when a child reaches three moons or approximately 3 months, the child’s head is shaved and then he or she is given a name. among the boys,2 days before circumcision they get their heads shaved
The Maasai live in communities called kraals. The kraals are small grass thatched huts are built in a circular or sphere shape, these are enclosed in a round fence that is constructed using the acacia thorns aimed at protecting the cattle from lion attacks. The entire community is occupied by members in an extended family but the new land management has brought changes to this arrangement enforcing a rule that each kraal should only be occupied by a single family. The housing units in the kraal are built by women while the outer ring fences are constructed by the men.
Roles of community members among the Maasai people
The Maasai people divided roles according to gender and age group
The Maasai women carried out construction of housing units and their decorations, they also carried out milking of the cattle.
Young men aged around 16 years and above were trained into becoming skilled warriors especially after their initiation circumcision process which ushered them into adulthood. These warriors were tasked with protecting the cattle and also the community at large.
The elders of the community made up the council of the elders and this was in charge of coordinating day to day activities among the Maasai communities.
Economy of the Maasai people
The Maasai people are predominantly pastoralist who graze cattle from on the edges of the Serengeti park. Long ago young boys had the cardinal role of herding the cattle but with the turn of modernity in the Maasai community young boys have sent to schools and only herd cattle on weekends when school are closed hence this role has slowly shifted to the community elders.
Food among the Maasai
The Maasai have their diet revolve around their cattle and their diet almost 95% consists cattle products like milk, raw meat, raw blood, ugali which is a solid corn bread. This enables the Maasai live a healthy life as they enjoy a diet that’s rich in proteins, carbohydrates and low-fat content. Research done on the Maasai has indicated that the Maasai only have 50% of the fat compared to the ordinary American citizens, the Maasai morans were evaluated to be overwhelmingly fit which was stated to be Olympic fitness.
How to get to Serengeti National Park Tanzania
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Accessing Serengeti National Park in Tanzania
Serengeti national park can be accessed using both road and air transport
Serengeti national park lies about 325km or 202miles or an 8-hour drive from Arusha. The journey to Serengeti national park takes you via the gate of lake manyara national park, then winding down into the western arm of the east African rift valley, find you way to the Ngorongoro Conservation Area then get past olduvia or oldupia gorge and finally access Serengeti national park from the Naabi hill gate. The drive to Serengeti is mostly done on bumpy murram or dirt roads and this means there will be plenty of the “backing soothing” African massage while you take this ride.
International flights to Tanzania can arrive at Kilimanjaro International Airport which is about 46km or 26miles outside Arusha town or Julius Nyerere international airport located outside the Dar es salaam. From Kilimanjaro international airport you can take a domestic flight to Serengeti national park and land on any of the airstrip such as seronera airstrip or kirawira airstrip in the western corridor. The cost of these flights usually ranges from 160-170$ per person one way. It is advisable to limit your baggage to 10-15kg or 20-30ibs and also pack your luggage in soft cover bags instead of hard cover bags.
Best time to visit the Serengeti national park in Tanzania
The Serengeti can be visited throughout the year but your visit should be timed depending on what you want to see and where you want to see it from. Those who are interested in seeing the wildebeests calving should visit the Serengeti around the months of December- March, those who want to see the dramatic scuffle which unravels as the wildebeests try to cross the Mara river should come around in the months of July and august. If your interest is the general wildlife of Serengeti, you can come around during the wet season months of March- May and September- November when these animals all roaming all over the park.
Accommodation/ safari lodges/ hotels in and around Serengeti national park in tanzania
Serengeti national park has some of the best accommodation facilities you can find on an African safari. These lodging facilities range from luxury lodges/camps to mid-range and low budget safari camps or lodges. Some of the lodging facilities in Serengeti include the following.
Buffalo luxury camp; 5km from Klien’s gate. 20 tents with 15 suitte tents and 5 chalet tents. All tents are spacious with private verandahs and are fitted with private Bathrooms with both hot and cold running water. Restaurant, Lounge area, Well stocked bar
Serengeti safari lodge; Inside the park in the banagi area. Numerous tents . Each of the tents has a private bathroom with an indoor and outdoor shower. Fire place lounge area, Swimming pool, Free wi-fii, Restaurant, Games like bad minton and table tennis. Price for luxury tent is 1990$
Klien’s camp; Northern sector near grumeti river. 10 spacious cottages. All cottages are fully equipped with private bathrooms. Restaurant, Lounge area, Camp fire, Swimming pool, Gift shops
Ikooma safari camp; Ikooma region. 3 tent suits, 2 family suits, 4 round traditional tent suits. All rooms are spacious and self-contained with both hot and colding running water in the shower. Restaurant, Lounge area, Well stocked bar, Camp fire
Mapito tent camp serengeti; Ikoma region 23miles from Serengeti visitor center seronera. Many tents. All tents feature a private bathroom with both hot and cold running. Restaurant, Lounge area, Free wi-fii, Mini bar. Price is 284$ per person a night
Serengeti simba safari lodge; 1.5-hour drive from seronera airstrip and 20-minute drive from ikoma airstrip. 15 guest rooms designed to give you absolute comfort. All rooms are equipped with private bathrooms with both hot and cold running water. Restaurant, Lounge area, Wi-fii for free, Well stocked bar, Swimming pool. Price ranges from 285$-508$ for single and double rooms.
Serengeti serena safari lodge; 27km from seronera airstrip. Numerous rooms . All rooms are fully furnished and each of them have a private bathroom with both cold and warm. Restaurant, Lounge area, Free wi-fii, Swimming pool, Well stocked bar, Cable tv channels. Price ranges from 161$- 310$ in a single or double room
Mbalageti safari camp; Located a 90-minute drive away from ndabaka gate or 3-hour drive from naabi gate.24 safari styled chalets and 5 family executive suites. All guest rooms are fully equipped with private bathrooms that have both cold and warm running water. Restaurant, Lounge area, Wi-fii for free, Well stocked bar, Swimming pool. Prices range from 165$-610$ in their single and double guest rooms
Asanja grumeti; Ikooma region. Numerous private tents. All tents are equipped with private bathrooms that have both cold and warm running water. Restaurant, Lounge area, Camp fire, Free wi-fii, Private shuttle fom Kilimanjaro airport. Price range 615$ per person a night.
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