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Serengeti National Park, Tanzania

The name Serengeti derives from the Maa language of the indigenous Maasai people. The Serengeti National Park lies on a high plateau which between the Ngorongoro Highlands and reaches almost as far as Lake Victoria. The Park itself ends at the border with Kenya (humans crossing this border is not permitted at present), but the Serengeti ecosystem has the Masai Mara in Kenya as the 'tip of its iceberg', and also includes the Ngorognoro Conservation system.
Example of a Seremgeti kopje, of which there are many (30k*)
The rocky granite outcrops called Inselbergs are usually called kopjes in Tanzania. Weathering and erosion has broken up the granite into a rough and jumbled surface. The kopjes have their own range of vegetation and wildlife, which makes them, in effect, island habitats. Animals can lie out on the rocks, soaking up the sun, but conversely, in the treeless plains, the trees in the kopjes provide shade and protection when that is wanted.
In the Serengeti itself, the main habitats are:
  • The short grass plains in the south-west. This is where the huge concentration of wildebeest is to be found from December to May, when most calves are born and the rut takes place. There is no permanent water in this area.
  • The long grass plains are in the south-west of the reserve, but further east than the short grass plains.The Seronera Part HQ is in this area.
  • The northern part of the reserve, from Seronera to the Kenya border consists of woodland, Lobo Hill and Gallery Forest, intertwined by rivers. This is part the Wildebeest migration route in June and November. From July to October, most of the wildebeest are in Kenya's Masai Mara.
  • The Western corridor has two main rivers, the Grumeti and the Mbalageti, which flow to lake Victoria, just outside the park. The best time to visit this area is from June to October.
Klipspringer

A big blow-up from a small section of a slide of a Klipspringer. The steepest kopje areas are the best places to look for Klipspringer, and this one was in a group of three on Lobo Kopje. We also saw one on the Shetani lava flow on our first trip. It walks on the tips of its hooves, and has superb climbing and jumping abilities, which help to keep it safe from predators, to which, at only c.52cm tall, it would otherwise be very vulnerable.

Agama lizard

Agama lizards like to sun themselves on open rocks, and are easily seen on the kopjes and around the lodges.

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Text and images © Liz Leyden, 2008
Email: liz [at] v-liz [dot] com
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