Wildlife in Tanzania Main National Parks – What Wild Animals to Expect During Your Safari

Tanzania, as a wildlife safari destination, is known as the home of the famous Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater. These two wildlife conservation areas together with many others in Tanzania, provide homes for the ever-threatened African wildlife. In fact, more than one-quarter of Tanzania is under some form of protection to preserve its biodiversity.

Some of the wildlife conservation parks in Tanzania and the animals that they provide a safe haven for, are given here:

Lake Manyara National park
The cleavage, known as the Great Rift Valley, can be identified from space as the most distinctive feature of the African continent. The seam of this cleavage has developed a series of fascinating and beautiful lakes. One of these lakes is called Manyara. Lake Manyara is also a national park. Manyara is a fantastic big game park. The variety of habitats parallels its exceptional scenery.

Every imaginable East African animal is found here in abundance. There are great herds of buffalo, zebra, wildebeest and several varieties of gazelle. Mahogany, sausage tree and croton are alive with blue monkeys and vervet monkeys. Some of the most amazingly large pods of hippos congregate at the rivers emerging into the lake, and the birdlife is plentiful. Lake Manyara is also known for its “treeclimbing” lions.

Mikumi National Park
Mikumi National Park covers 3237 square kilometers and lies within the Mkata River plain bordered by the Uluguru Mountain range to the east and the Rubeho Mountains on the west, an area of lush vegetation which particularly attracts elephants and buffalos. Open grasslands dominate in the flood plain, eventually merging with the Miombo woodland covering the lower hills. Wildlife is abundant with giraffes, zebras, buffalos, hartebeests, wildebeests, elephants, wild dogs, and smaller mammals and reptiles. Mikumi’s vegetation includes woodland, swamp and grassland with two water holes, Mkata and Chamgore. Apart form the saddle-bill stork, hammer kop and malachite kingfisher, there are also monitor lizards and a deadly python inhabiting the pools.

Ngorongoro Conservation Area
Ngorongoro is quite unique as its physical protection from man natural beauty ranks it among the most pristine wildernesses on earth. It is regarded as a natural wonder of the world and has been declared a World Heritage Site. It is the largest intact crater in the world, being 610 meters deep, 16 kilometers across and covering an area of 540 square kilometers. On the crater floor, grassland blends into swamps, lakes, rivers, woodland and mountains – all a haven for wildlife, including the greatest predator population in Africa. The volcanic crater is packed with wildlife, including all the big game. Its pride and joy, however, is that it remains the last great wild refuge for the endangered black rhino.

Ruaha National Park

The Ruaha National Park is Tanzania’s second largest park and the world’s largest elephant sanctuary. Although set in spectacular scenery with an abundance of wildlife, the park is one of the lesser visited in the country, keeping it an isolated and peaceful wilderness. Amongst the game found at the park are elephants, buffalos, giraffes, cheetahs, lions, leopards, a wide variety of antelope and over 465 recorded species of birdlife.

Selous National Reserve
Selous is one of the most remote and least visited game park in Africa, but at 15,000 square miles, it is the world’s largest game reserve. The name derives from hunter-explorer Frederick Courtenay Selous, a keen naturalist and conservationist as well as a hunter. He was killed in the First World War in the Beho Beho region of the reserve. The defining feature of the Selous is the great Rufiji River, which naturally splits the ecosystem into two distinct parts.

Selous National reserve can be explored by boat, sailing through swamps and lagoons where elephant often come to bathe, or even by foot, as the Selous is one of few Tanzanian reserves to allow walking tours. It has the world’s largest number of big game, more than 120,000 elephants, 160,000 buffaloes and about 2,000 rhinoceros. In addition, the Selous contains Africa’s greatest concentration of hippopotamus, crocodiles and wild dogs.

The Serengeti National park
The name ‘Serengeti’ comes from the Maasai language and appropriately means an ‘endless plains’. The National Park is as big as Northern Ireland, but its ecosystem, which includes the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, the Maswa Game Reserve and the Maasai Mara Game reserve (in 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. As such, it offers the most complex and least disturbed ecosystem on earth.

A unique combination of diverse habitats enables the Serengeti to support more than 30 species of large herbivores and nearly 500 species of birds. Its landscape, originally formed by volcanic activity, has been sculpted by the concerted action of wind, rain and sun. It now varies from open grass plains in the south, savanna with scattered acacia trees in the center, hilly, wooded grassland in the north, to extensive woodland and black clay plains to the west. Small rivers, lakes and swamps are scattered throughout. Rising in the southeast are the great volcanic massifs and craters of the Ngorongoro Highlands. The Serengeti plains are host to a dramatic annual migration of hundreds of thousands of wildebeest and numerous other species of animals indigenous to the area.

Tarangire National Park
Tarangire National Park covers 2,600 square kilometers and is on the traditional migration route of several species of the wildlife. At dry times, the concentration of animals in Tarangire rivals that of the much better known Serengeti. Herds of migratory wildebeest, gazelle, zebra and buffalo gather along the marshy shores of Lake Natron. These pools are shared by flocks of birds: green wood hoopoes, fisher lovebirds, tallish herons, white bellied goaway birds and giant kingfishers. Resident lion, giraffe, elephant, and black rhino are common at any season;

Tarangire is noted for its baobab trees and splendid vistas of rolling savannah and acacia woodland. The strange-looking, centuriesold baobab trees are believed by the Maasai to be the first tree in creation.