Tembea:Serengeti’s splendor

Serengeti is vast complex natural ecosystem lying astride the Kenya- Tanzania border covering the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, the Maswa Game Reserve and the Maasai Mara Game reserve in north-western Tanzania and extends to south-western Kenya. 

Serengeti is vast complex natural ecosystem lying astride the Kenya- Tanzania border covering the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, the Maswa Game Reserve and the Maasai Mara Game reserve in north-western Tanzania and extends to south-western Kenya. 

It lies between the shores of Lake Victoria in the west, Lake Eyasi in the south, and the Great Rift Valley to the east.

The name Serengeti comes from a Maasai word “Serengit” which means “Endless or extended Plains’ which the Maasai thought was really endless because of its vastness.

A unique combination of diverse habitats enables it to support more than 30 species of large herbivores and nearly 500 species of birds.

Its landscape, originally formed by volcanic activity, has been sculptured by the concerted action of wind, rain and sun.

It now varies from open grass plains in the south, savannah with scattered acacia trees in the centre, hilly, wooded grassland in the north, to extensive woodland and black clay plains to the west.

Small rivers, lakes and swamps are scattered throughout. Its complex ecosystem consists of riverine forests, swamps, kopjes, grasslands and woodlands. 

Blue Wildebeests, gazelles, zebras and buffalos are some of the commonly found large mammals in the region.

The plains host the largest and longest overland migration in the world. Around October, about 2 million herbivores travel from the northern hills toward the southern plains, crossing the Mara River, in pursuit of the rains.

In April, they then return to the north through the west, once again crossing the Mara River.

Serengeti also hosts Olduvai Gorge, where Dr. and Mrs. Leakey found the 1.75 million-year-old remains of Australopithecus boisei and Homo habilis which suggest which is sometimes referred to as the cradle of mankind. To the west, the Gorge reaches Lake Ndutu where a safari lodge is attractively set amongst trees by the water’s edge.

In the open grass plains during the rainy months from November to May hundreds of thousands of wildebeest and Burchell’s zebra congregate.

The area is the starting point for the Serengeti annual migration. Lion, cheetah, hyena and hunting dog follow the wildebeest and zebra, making sure that only the fittest survive.

In November, when the grazing is finished in the North, this army of animals surges back to the now green pastures of the south, where they calve and mate before starting the entire cycle again.

Towards Seronera, the headquarters of Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park, hills rise out of plains criss-crossed by small rivers.

Umbrella acacia trees appear, elegant and serene, contrasting with the twisted commiphora trees. Cheeky hyraxes and lizards play on the rocks and a profusion of birds - superb starlings, lilac-breasted rollers, barbets and ring-necked doves to name but a few - fill the air with their songs.

But all around is some of the wildest bush in Africa. Giraffes nibble the tender leaves of the thorny acacias, buffalo lumber along, and all manner of game - Thomson’s and Grant’s gazelles, Impala, Topi and Kongoni - graze nervously.

At night the soaring cough of the leopard and the whooping laugh of the hyena interrupt the incessant ticking of the cicadas. And then there are famous black-maned lions of Seronera.

The road to the west of Seronera runs parallel to the Grumeti River, crossing extensive cotton soil plains.

The riverine wood along its banks supports many black and white colobus monkeys while exceptionally large crocodiles take to its waters to complete the wonder of Serengeti.

kelviod@yahoo.com

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