The Serengeti is a vast land area located in northern Tanzania in East Africa. It extends to southwestern Kenya and covers an area of 12,000 square miles. While the Tanzanian part of the land is called Serengeti, the Kenyan side of the land is known as the Maasai Mara. “Serengeti” is a word derived from the Maasai community. It means “endless plains.” The Serengeti is made up of the Serengeti National Park and several game reserves including the Maasai Mara Reserve.
Brief History of the Serengeti
The Serengeti was called “Maasailand” by outsiders. The Maasai are an indigenous people known for being fierce warriors. They live among the wild animals and survive by eating game, birds, and their large herds of cattle. The Maasai’s hostility towards the arrival of the Europeans resulted in the preservation of the animals by preventing any exploitation of the animals by the Whites. The government of Tanzania later re-settled the Maasai people around the Ngorongoro Crater. The people's former homeland had been infested by drought and rinderpest epidemic. Thanks to the Maasai protection of the land and animals, the Serengeti now hosts the largest migration of animals.
Facts About the Serengeti
The Serengeti National Park and the Maasai Mara Reserve are famous worldwide because they host the largest terrestrial mammal migration called the Great Migration. The Great Migration is one of the Seven Natural Wonders of Africa. Additionally, it is also among the Ten Natural Wonders of the World. Due to these accolades attached to the Serengeti, thousands of tourists visit the park and game reserves which culminate into high tourism earnings for both Kenya and Tanzania. The best time to visit the Serengeti is from April-May. Nevertheless, tourists can visit at any other time of the year.
The Great Migration takes place at the same time every year. It is a natural phenomenon that is determined by the availability of grazing land for about 1.7 million wildebeests, 260,000 zebras, and 470,000 gazelles. The migration starts from Ngorongoro Conservation Area in southern Serengeti. The animals move clockwise to the Serengeti National Park and they end by crossing over to the north into the Maasai Mara Reserve in Kenya. The migration typically occurs during the calving season from January-March. It ends in July and August when the arrivals arrive in Kenya’s Maasai Mara Reserve. The sight of the wildebeests, accompanied by the other animals running across the fields and rivers as they fight for their lives from predators like crocodiles, is magnificent. However, the journey usually claims lives of over 250,000 animals that die from hunger, exhaustion, thirst, and predation.
Besides the animals that traverse the area during the Great Migration, the Serengeti possesses the oldest and most scientifically significant ecosystems on earth. It is characterized by the high diversity of swamps, elands, buffalos, gazelles, blue wildebeests, kopjes, zebras, swamps, riverine forests, and grasslands. Furthermore, the Serengeti is inhabited by resilient populations of predators and iconic wildlife which is the reason behind its listing as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
A major conservation project that operates at the Serengeti is the Serengeti Conservation Project. Its primary objective is to ensure “Serengeti shall not die.” The champions of the project work in partnership with the Tanzania National Parks authorities to execute programs like anti-poaching campaigns.