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ill titleSerengeti Life

History | Wildlife

 

With the name meaning of "Endless Plains", it's quite apt -- the Serengeti spans north Tanzania to south-western Kenya and hosts the largest terrestrial mammal migration in the world. It contains the Serengeti National Park and holds approximately 70 larger mammal and some 500 avifauna species. Diverse habitats include riverine forests, swamps, kopjes, grasslands and woodlands. Commonly found animals include wildebeests, gazelles, zebras and buffalo.

History

ill_1Initially, the Serengeti was known as "Maasailand" -- named after the fierce warrior tribe, The Maasai. Virtual protectors of the region, the Maasai lived amongst the wild animals and subsisted exclusively on their cattle. But in the 1890s, sickness reduced human and animal populations, which set the cycle of events to development of the dense, surrounding woodlands.

What we know now as the Serengeti developed from fire, elephants, and wildebeests. Fire scorched new tree seedlings. Heavy rain encourage grass growth, which fueled the fires in the following dry seasons. Older trees began to die, and the elephant diet of young and old trees also impacted the area. But poaching took a toll on elephant herds, reducing the population from 2,460 in 1970 to 467 in 1986.

To round out the development of the rangelands, wildebeests and Cape buffalo populations cropped the grass with grazing, reducing the amount of fuel for the fires. This reduction in fires has allowed shrubs and trees to repopulate.

Wildlife

The Serengeti's 30,000 square kilometres houses over 1.6 million wildebeests, 440,000 gazelle, 250,000 zebra, 2,800 lions, almost 9,000 hyena, 1,000 leopards, and 500 cheetah--the most endangered of the big cats. With few exceptions almost every great African animal can be found here.

THE GREAT MIGRATION

Animal life is dominated by an annual event known as The Great Migration. Around July of each year, these grass-eaters migrate from the Serengeti plains in search of fresh pasture, and return to the south around October. But the event is not solely limited to the wildebeest, and it brings with it the migration of other animals, which also brings the carnivores and the scavengers. Cyclical and very much an act of nature, it serves as the lifecycle for the serengeti wildlife.

ANIMALS OF THE SERENGETI

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ZEBRA
*CHEETAH
*LION
GAZELLE
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*ELEPHANT
WILDEBEEST
LEOPARD
HARTEBEEST
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HYENA
BUFFALO
**JACKAL
**HUNTING DOG
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***BLACK RHINO
HIPPO
GIRAFFE
IMPALA
       
* Vulnerable Conservation Status
** Endangered Conservation Status
*** Critical Conservation Status