Nyerere National Park, originally known as the Selous Game Reserve, is located in southern Tanzania, distant from the hustle and bustle of the bustling northern circuit. In German East Africa, the first formal environmental legislation was approved in 1888, asking for the construction of recognized wildlife reserves, the implementation of hunting quotas, and stricter controls regarding the hunting of specific species. The first protected areas were established in 1896, one to the west of Mount Kilimanjaro and another along the Rufiji River in southern Tanzania.
FREDERICK COURTENEY SELOUS
Frederick Courteney Selous was a British officer, explorer, hunter, and conservationist. He spent several years hunting medium and large mammal species on the African continent, from South Africa to South Sudan. Specimens were obtained for his private collection as well as public museums, most notably the Natural History Museum in London, which houses over 500 mammals shot by him. He gave the museum around 5,000 plant and animal specimens in total. He recognized the enormous decline in game in Africa as a result of European hunters because of his love of large game hunting. As a result of this realization, he became an advocate for the establishment of established game reserves, the preservation of wildlife species, and the conservation of natural ecosystems. His influence, along with that of other large game hunters who joined his cause, was instrumental in bringing official legislation to most of Africa in the 1880s.
Selous was killed on the banks of the Rufiji River in 1917 by a German sniper during World War One fighting in German East Africa. Tanzania was handed over to Britain in 1919, and the reserve where he died was renamed in his honor as the Selous Game Reserve in 1922, in recognition of his influence and commitment to the formation of game reserves in Africa.
The Selous Game Reserve’s size and shape fluctuated and extended over time, reaching its greatest in the 1940s with an area of over 50 000 km2, greater than the Netherlands. Until recently, just a tiny section of the reserve’s north had been designated for photography tourists, with the rest of the reserve divided into hunting blocks.
A CHANGE OF NAME
In 2019, the Tanzanian government decided to establish a new national park by carving land from the existing Selous Game Reserve, establishing new park boundaries, and reserving an area of nearly 31,000 km2 for photographic tourism under the management and protection of the Tanzania National Parks Authority (TANAPA). The new park was named Nyerere National Park after Tanzania’s first president, Julius Nyerere. Nyerere was a well-known anti-colonialist who was influential in Tanzania’s independence from Britain in 1961. In Tanzania, where he is frequently referred to as “The Father of the Nation,” Nyerere’s memory is still held in high regard. The transfer of management to TANAPA will result in a stronger presence on the ground to combat poaching, the development of a broader tourism offering throughout the park, and the professional management of the overall tourism experience.
Nowadays, Nyerere National Park has a great range of animals, including thriving elephant populations and hundreds of buffalo herds. Several lion prides, numerous leopards, and competitive hyena clans make up the apex predator population. African wild dog packs prowl the broad grasslands, preying on the abundant antelope and gazelle. Tigerfish, crocodiles, and hippos populate the waterways and lake networks, while over 400 bird species live in the many biomes.
Roho ya Selous, which means “heart” or “soul” of the Selous, is strategically located in one of the best game viewing areas. The waterways surrounding the lakes of Nzerakera and Manze are teeming with wildlife all year, and the lakes themselves provide a thrilling alternative to the land-based activities of trekking and game drives in the form of boating safaris and catch-and-release fishing.
Because there are enormous stretches of territory waiting to be explored, the construction of the new national park opens up intriguing tourism potential. A Tanzania safari site already known for its diverse landscapes and activities can now provide unrivaled levels of exclusivity amid one of East Africa’s finest wildlife habitats.