LIFE ON THE GREAT PLAINS OF SERENGETI
Life on the Great Plains of Serengeti : Serengeti is the most celebrated national park in Africa. It hosts the world’s greatest mammal migration, yes The Great Migration where about two million wildebeest along with zebras and gazelles migrate annually from the south of the park to the northern Maasai Mara. This great national park is located in northern Tanzania. It takes about six to seven hours drive to reach there from Arusha city, the tourism city in Tanzania. Serengeti was derived from the Maasai language from the word Siringet which means ‘endless plains. Yes, like what the name suggests, Serengeti’s landscape is mainly of savannah plains, kopjes, and woodlands. This makes it a site for plain animals like zebra, wildebeest, gazelle, Cape buffalo, African elephant, and numerous species of antelopes. Serengeti plains are flat and are dotted with trees especially acacia trees. They extend to about 160 kilometers in the southeast very close to the African giant lake, Lake Victoria, and about 100 miles to the North bordering Kenya.
Being a savannah plain national park, Serengeti supports a variety of life ranging from giant mammals, a huge population of carnivores to the stunning flora species. You will never regret paying for a trip to the Serengeti because you will find it thrilling than you could imagine. Being a host of various species of living species, Serengeti is a superb choice for zoologists, botanists, ornithologists, and other folks who want to enjoy their holidays while enjoying the scenes of animals and plants. Let’s explore the life of various living things.
Yes, wildebeest the astonishing mammals in Serengeti. They are famous for their never-ending annual migration famously known as the Great Migration. This event is one of the Seven Natural Wonders of Africa. During this event, about 1.7 million wildebeest along with 260,000 zebras and 470,000 gazelles migrate from the south of Serengeti to the northern Maasai Mara in Kenya. At the start of the cycle, about half a million calves are born in the south especially around Ndutu Area. To cut this story short, I will summarize some of the important events which occur during this cycle.
From January to April, calving mainly takes place in the Ndutu and Seronera areas where rainfall is abundant at this time. Therefore, there is sufficient pasture for feeding the calves. It is at this time, lazy predators like spotted hyenas catch prey easily usually the calves. If you are good at timing, plan a camping safari with your tour operator at this time. You will enjoy seeing how the genius mother wildebeest trying to protect her calf from hungry predators.
From May to July, the rains stop causing the shortage of pasture. Therefore, the herd moves to the west where it crosses the Grumeti River and heads northwards. Death is the reducing factor at this time. Hungry crocodiles are excellent at catching prey from the crossing herd. Other wildebeests die because of hungry, thirsty, and predators.
From August to mid-October, the herd crosses the giant Mara river. Crossing this river is like a sacrifice because most of the weak animals lose their lives by being eaten by crocodiles and being drowned in deep swamps.
From November to December the herd returns back to Serengeti plains. They move to the south where at this time, it has got enough pasture. Around January the herd settles at the southern Serengeti preparing for calving season which takes place mainly in February. The cycle repeats again.
The Great Migration is one of the spectacular events which attract a large number of tourists who are a fan of watching this wonderful event. You will enjoy being part of this enormous event in the world. I can guarantee you that there are good tour operators for planning your iconic safari to witness the greatest mammal migration.
The Big Five animals.
In the Serengeti plains reside the Big Five animals celebrated by every tourist. You have all the odds to spot them in these ‘endless plains’. These animals were coined as the ‘Big Five’ by the world-famous hunters who found it very difficult to hunt them. Therefore, don’t expect to see a giraffe in the list of Big Five animals because it is easily hunted. Big Five animals are lion, leopard, Cape buffalo, black rhino, and the African elephant.
It is coined as the King of the African savannah. It is the most dangerous to its prey. You can spot this mammal in almost every corner of the Serengeti plains. Serengeti hosts a huge population of lions. Lion has no predator in the jungle, that is why some of the writers like to call it King of Jungle. Lions live in small families especially the lioness and her puppies.
This is the second dangerous animal in the jungle. Some confused it with the cheetah. These are two different species. Leopards live in very small groups of up to four animals where three of them maybe puppies and the one is their mother.
This giant bush cow is so dangerous especially when annoyed. It has few predators including the excellent lioness. Some predators prefer to hunt their young ones. Cape buffalo is commonly encountered in short-grass and long-grass plains in the park. They are also found in herds of about 1000 in woodlands especially grassland meadows commonly known as “mbuga” in Swahili.
Yes, the world’s largest land animal. The elephant is commonly seen in acacia woodlands (in mbuga) and in savannah plains. They live in groups of up to thirty with one paternal leader.
The black rhino is one of the oldest mammal species living in the world. It has been reported to be one of the endangered species in the world. Researchers predict that it will extinct in a few years to come. The Tanzania government under the Ministry of Tourism noticed this and relocated about nine black rhinos into the Serengeti from South Africa. Therefore, Serengeti offers you a wonderful scene of this historical mammal. The black rhino is less social and is commonly found in short shrubs camouflaging thus Life on the Great Plains of Serengeti.
Apart from the above famous animals, there are other beautiful animals worth watching in the Serengeti. This Serengeti national park consists of about 35 species of plain animals. Some of the beautiful animals include; Plains zebras, warthog, Grant’s and Thomson’s gazelles, cheetah (the fastest land animal on the planet), giraffe, spotted hyena, striped hyena, and the African dog to name a few. In the acacia woodlands, you will spot various species of antelopes, impalas, dik-dik, and topi.
In the riverine forests, you will encounter various primates including white and black colobus monkeys. Other animals you will in these forests include bushbuck, duiker, and hyrax. On the shores of the Grumeti river, you will spot the hippos and crocodiles.
Over 500 Bird Species
The Serengeti plains host over 500 avian species. Birds reside in the acacia and Terminalia woodlands. Few of them live in the open grasslands. Good sites for birders are in the riverine forests around the Grumeti River. You will be able to spot the Serengeti endemic species which cannot be spotted anywhere in the world. These include grey throated spurfowl, Schalow’s wheater, red-throated tit, Rufous-tailed Weaver, grey-crested helmet shrike, and Schalow’s turaco. These birds are found in Serengeti only. Therefore, your visit to this park can turn you into a bird lover.
Other bird species are secretary bird, African fish eagle, Fischer’s lovebird, Kori bustard, and southern ground hornbill. The best time to enjoy birding in Serengeti is between around January to April when the migratory species has settled for nesting and mating thus Life on the Great Plains of Serengeti.
Reptiles, Amphibians, and Fish
Forget about huge mammals that are easily observed from afar look on game drives, there are various reptiles, amphibians, and fishes. These are easily observed when you plan a guided nature walk. Such reptiles include lizards, shrinks, serpents, pythons, leopard tortoises, and crocodiles.
Frogs and fishes are usually observed in seasonal swamps and in the Grumeti River.
One of the wonderful species of insects that play a vital role in maintaining the Serengeti ecosystem is dung beetles. There are about 100 varieties of dung beetles that help in distributing and decomposing dung which becomes manure in the future. Other insects found in Serengeti include termites, giant rhinoceros beetle, weevils, and grasshoppers.
The Serengeti plains are covered with grasses and trees which make it appear green. Various trees are found in riverine forests and in the woodlands. Some of such beautiful trees are sausage, fig tree, wild date palm, Commiphora, yellow fever tree, umbrella tree, and whistling thorn thus Life on the Great Plains of Serengeti
I found it very hard to put all the beauty of all lives residing in the Serengeti plains in these plain paper. This is because it is not possible to enjoy the beauty by reading or hearing someone telling a story about it. The only way you can enjoy the full potential of the creatures of Serengeti is by paying a visit to Tanzania, to Serengeti National Park in particular. Once you land at Kilimanjaro International Airport you can easily reach this amazing national park in the world.