Serengeti comes from the Maasai word “Siring” meaning “Endless Plain”, which really is what it means: hundreds of kilometers of flat surface land, better termed “The Sea of Grass On Plains”. The first understanding about Serengeti comes from its distinction of the ecosystem from the Serengeti National Park itself.
The ecosystem encompasses the following: Ngorongoro Crater Conservation Area in the south east, Ikorongo, Grumeti and Maswa Game Reserves in the western pockets, the Loliondo Game Control Area (also known as government approved hunting blocks) in the north east, and in the north by the famous Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya, thus the Serengeti National Park itself is cushioned within these game control and reserves.
The Serengeti ecosystem is approximately 27,000 square kilometers and the park is documented at 14,763 square kilometers. It is informative to learn about the chronology in the establishment of Serengeti National Park: in 1929, 2,286 square kilometers of land was granted “Game Reserve” status by the colonial British government.
In 1940, the Serengeti Game Reserve was enlarged to include protecting more bio diversities native to the area. A formal “National Park” status was granted in 1951 by the ruling colonial government with a further increase in size to 25,500 square kilometers; this size included the Ngorongoro Conservation Area.
This lasted till 1959, when Ngorongoro Crater was incised into an independent Conservation Area. This separation yet seamless integration of the Serengeti National Park with Ngorongoro Conservation Area can be see when you drive through the gravel roads of the Conservation Area, directly entering Naabi Hill gate in Serengeti National Park. World recognition was awarded to the Serengeti National Park in 1981 when it was granted status as a World Heritage Site and as a Biosphere Reserve.
Although this paper on the Serengeti National Park was written to serve African Mecca guests with quality, credible and reliable information about the resources in our homeland, we encourage visitors in general to understand what it is that makes the Serengeti tick? What is it that makes the Serengeti what it is?
How does the environment and nature come to play its part in the Serengeti? We would like to formally state this because many guests sometimes overlook the superb theatrics being played out, and it is our desire to encourage our guests to have a personal connection to the Serengeti, which would also make their safari journey an incredible experience.
Facts On Serengeti National Park and Ecosystem
Location and Geography
• The Serengeti National Park is located in Tanzania, adjacent to Ngorongoro Conservation Area.
• The Serengeti ecosystem includes 2 countries: Tanzania and Kenya
• In Kenya, the Serengeti ecosystem is renowned as Masai Mara National Reserve.
• Serengeti National Park is 14,763 square kilometers.
• First detailed research on the Serengeti ecosystem was undertaken by two German Nationals (father and son), Dr. Bernhard and Michael Grizmek. The details of their findings and stories on the Serengeti are documented in a book called “Serengeti Shall Not Die.”
• The Serengeti National Park has many rivers flowing through it, permanent and seasonal, including the Seronera River, Mara River, Grumeti River and Orangi River.
The participants: White bearded Wildebeests, Burchells Zebras and Thompson’s Gazelles
• The highlight of the Serengeti ecosystem, not found anywhere in the world, is the migration of the animals thus the reason to visit Serengeti National Park and Masai Mara National Reserve.
• The migration of animals consists of White Bearded Wildebeests, Burchells Zebra and Thomson’s gazelles.
• The migration begins by the wildebeests, gazelles and zebra’s own innate biological triggers determined to search for water and greener pastures.
• The migration attracts diverse species of predators, some being: Hyenas, Lions, Leopards, Cheetahs, Crocodiles, Pythons etc.
• Over a million wildebeests begin their circumlocution of the Serengeti National Park and Masai Mara National Reserve. Over half a million Burchells Zebras and Thompson’s gazelles participate in the traditions of the Serengeti.
Facts On White bearded Wildebeests:
• There are two species of wildebeests in Africa: the White Bearded Wildebeests found in East Africa and the Black Bearded wildebeest found in southern Africa.
• Migratory wildebeests numbering in the thousands will not complete the circumlocution of the Serengeti ecosystem because of deaths and diseases.
• A newborn wildebeest is called a calf, and can stand upright and begin running in less than half an hour after birth.
• The calving female wildebeests, after an eight-month gestation period will produce over 250,000 offspring’s with majority of them being female.
• Wildebeests of the Serengeti participate in the migration but yet generally, wildebeests are territorial animals when resident to an area, which seems ironical.
• Wildebeests enjoy mixed savannah grassland and wooded vegetation. The savannah grassland provides food for survival and the wooded areas provide the necessary shading and shelter.
• Mating of the wildebeests is more appropriately referred to as “Rutting.”
• The two types of zebras found in East Africa are the Burchells zebras found in Serengeti and Southern parts of Kenya, and Grevy zebra found in Northern Kenya in the Samburu and Shaba National Reserves.
• Burchells and Grevy Zebras are like original pieces of artwork: no two are alike.
• Burchells Zebras along with other species of the Serengeti National Park, like Baboons, are the sound alarm for approaching predators; the zebra’s superb sight, smell and sound are the reason many wildebeests can emerge victorious when challenged by predators because of early warnings.
• Burchells Zebras are not territorial, and are often found on the plains of Serengeti, many a times cross-necked to keep a watchful eye over predators.
• Male zebras are referred to as stallions; female to as mares; and offspring born are called foals.
• The gestation period for the mare is 12 to 13 months.
• Thompson’s gazelles are endemic to National Parks and Reserves in Northern Tanzania and Kenya.
• They are the last to follow in the migration, chomping up the remainder of the grass leftover by the zebras and wildebeests.
• Thompson’s gazelles have a high tolerance to absence of water thus the reason for their late arrival in the migration process. They supplement the lack water of during the Serengeti dry season by intelligently digesting plants and wild fruits that retain water.
• They are often found in large number of herds in all part of the Serengeti National Park plains.
• They have a superb sight and smell capabilities, which enables them to sense their predators, allowing them to flee in time.
Fact File about Serengeti
Size: 14,763 sq km (5,700 sq miles).
Location: 335km (208 miles) from Arusha, stretching north to Kenya and bordering Lake Victoria to the west.
Scheduled and charter flights from Arusha, Lake Manyara and Mwanza.
Drive from Arusha, Lake Manyara, Tarangire or Ngorongoro Crater.
What to do
Hot air balloon safaris, walking safari, picnicking, game drives, bush lunch/dinner can be arranged with hotels/tour operators. Maasai rock paintings and musical rocks.
Visit neighbouring Ngorongoro Crater, Olduvai Gorge, Ol Doinyo Lengai volcano and Lake Natron’s flamingos.
When to go
To follow the wildebeest migration, December-July. To see predators, June-October.
Four lodges, six luxury tented camps and camp sites scattered through the park; one new lodge will be opened next season (Bilila Lodge); one luxury camp, a lodge and two tented camps just outside.