The Serengeti Ecosystem : An iconic ecosystem that spans the border between Tanzania and Kenya, the Serengeti is protected in part by the Serengeti and Maasai Mara National Parks, as well as a number of other protected areas, such as game reserves, the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, and wildlife management areas that are run by local communities. However, the borders of protected areas rarely coincide closely with the boundaries of ecosystems, and many regions that are crucial to the greater Serengeti’s ecosystem function (such as stretches of the wildebeest migration routes) lie outside the bounds of these protected areas.
Our attention was directed toward the larger Serengeti ecosystem’s Tanzanian portion. The ecosystem’s Tanzanian districts are heavily dependent on agriculture and resource extraction, and they have low per capita incomes. The majority of the population living in the western Serengeti is made up of small-scale farmers and agro-pastoralists who rely on the environment for their livelihoods. In and around Serengeti National Park, a lot of people make use of resources like firewood, water, and bush meat for both personal consumption and monetary gain. Additionally, the larger Serengeti ecosystem is home to pasture and water resources that are essential to pastoralist populations, especially on its eastern side.
In the Tanzanian Serengeti, there is hostility between many rural communities and the protected areas. Up to 8% of those who live close to Serengeti National Park view bush meat hunting as their primary source of income. People who live close to Serengeti National Park frequently complain about the park’s devastating effects on their way of life (such as the destruction of crops and the predation of livestock).
The range of interests and values represented among various stakeholder groups is as varied as the mix of organizations and institutions with authority over significant decisions affecting the ecosystem and its inhabitants. The Serengeti Community Conservation Forum was recently established in order to bring together these various stakeholders and attempt some level of coordination and cooperative problem-solving.
THE HISTORY OF THE SERENGETI ECOSYSTEM
The Serengeti is special for a variety of reasons. The Serengeti ecosystem, which spans 30,000 km2 in northern Tanzania, includes the Serengeti National Park (about 14,763 km2) and other notable game reserves. The Great Wildebeest Migration, one of the largest mammal migrations in the world, takes place in the Serengeti.
We can better understand how the Serengeti plains got to where they are today by looking back at their past. The Serengeti ecosystem was uninhabited African land for a very long time before the Maasai people ever set foot there.
Later, the Maasai people began utilizing the Serengeti plains as their primary grazing area. The plains were rich in wildlife and extremely fertile.
The first group of professional hunters arrived in this region in the late 1920s, marking the beginning of their presence. At about the same time, the first images of the Great Migration appeared. Hunting was permitted up until 1937. The region was designated a “protected area” in 1940, and the Serengeti National Park was created in 1951. The Ngorongoro Conservation Area (NCA) was a part of the original Serengeti National Park. The NCA wasn’t separated from the Serengeti National Park until 1959, when it was expanded to the Kenyan border.
The Lamai Wedge was founded in 1965. A natural passageway for wildebeest to travel from the Serengeti plains to the Loita plains was made possible by the addition of this area to the Serengeti National Park. The Serengeti National Park joined the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1981.
The Olduvai Gorge, which is frequently referred to as the “Cradle of Mankind,” is another characteristic of the Serengeti ecosystem. This paleoanthropological site is in the southern Serengeti ecosystem, which is now part of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. These ancient human fossils, which date back 2.1 million years, show the continuous lineage of human evolution. Olduvai Gorge was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979.
THE SERENGETI NATIONAL PARK: A TOURIST DESTINATION
The Serengeti National Park is the most well-known component of the Serengeti ecosystem. Around 1.5 million blue wildebeest, the largest lion population in Africa, more than 250,000 zebras, 150,000 gazelles, and 500 different bird species are all found in the national park. Along with many other species, the Serengeti National Park is also home to elephants, cheetahs, leopards, crocodiles, hippos, baboons, and giraffes.
One of the most well-known endemic bird areas in Africa is the Serengeti-Mara ecosystem. A restricted bird species area and habitat-based bird conservation are both present in this area. Particular areas make it simple to find the birds; for instance, the Seronera region is a good place to look for gray-breasted spur fowl. From November to April, you can see a large number of bird migrations, similar to the massive wildebeest migration. The Schalow’s wheatear, the Schalow’s turaco, and the grey-crested helmet shrike are a few notable endemic birds to the Serengeti. Because prey and predators coexist in one habitat and interact with one another there, the ecosystem of the Serengeti is unique. But what is the best season to visit the Serengeti National Park?
BEST SEASON TO VISIT THE SERENGETI NATIONAL PARK
Seasonal changes affect the Serengeti National Park’s conditions. The dry season, which lasts from late June to early October, is the ideal time to visit the Serengeti National Park. During this time of year, you can see wildlife at its most spectacular, as well as the wildebeest migration’s breathtaking river crossings. Let’s examine the various times of year that the Serengeti is accessible.
June to October (dry season)
Even though it is a popular time of year, this is one of the best times to visit the Serengeti National Park. The wildebeest population migrates through the western corridor near the Grumeti River in the months of June and July. In the months of August and September, they assemble in the park’s northern region and cross the potent Mara River. The plains are teeming with wildlife at this time, and witnessing the wildebeest migration in all its splendor is an unforgettable experience.
Late December to March (calving season)
The short rainy season at the beginning of the season heralds the return of the wildebeest to the Serengeti’s southern plains. The Southern Serengeti and the Ndutu Plains of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area (the southern extension of the Serengeti ecosystem) are the best places to stay during this time of year.
The calving and predator seasons are in January and February. Thousands of new babies and lush vegetation abound in the plains’ landscape. The Serengeti ecosystem’s least frequented months are April and May. In addition to the migration of the wildebeest and other mammals, the plains provide fantastic opportunities for bird watching.
HOW DO I REACH THE SERENGETI NATIONAL PARK?
You should depart on your journey to the Serengeti from Arusha. The distance from Arusha to Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO) is about 56 kilometers. You can drive slowly up there, passing by other national parks and the Ngorongoro Conservation Area en route, or you can fly to a number of different airstrips in the Serengeti National Park from the domestic airport in Arusha. The Julius Nyerere International Airport (DAR) in Dar es Salaam is another way to get to Arusha. Where do you stay in the Serengeti National Park?
The Serengeti has four main entry points, which are:
- Naabi Hill Gate
- Ndabaka Gate
- Klein’s Gate
- Ikoma Gate
You must pay entrance fees in order to enter the national park through any of the aforementioned gates. All entrance fees are covered by your safari booking package. All over the national park, there are different kinds of lodging options. Different areas of the national park offer various things, depending on the season you’re visiting. Mobile camps and permanent camps and lodges are two different types of lodging. Depending on the month of the year you choose to travel, mobile camps follow the wildebeest migration and enable you to see all phases of the great migration. Every budget can find something to enjoy at the permanent camps and lodges.
There are many options to select from, depending on your spending limit and length of stay. Focus East Africa Tours creates custom family, single, and couple safaris for you that let you fully experience Tanzania.
One of the most culturally varied and wildlife-rich nations in Africa is Tanzania. The Serengeti is Tanzania’s jewel, and visiting the national park will leave you with lifelong memories. Your adventurous heart will be gladdened by the vast plains covered in lush flora and fauna, amazing sunsets, and game drives. What is holding you back from beginning to arrange a trip to this wildlife paradise right now? Get in touch with us for more details!