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The Serengeti


The Serengeti, which means ‘endless plains’ in Swahili, covers an enormous plateau that lies between the Rift Valley to the east and Lake Victoria to the west. The region broadly encompasses the National Park itself, the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Maswa Game Reserve, the Loliondo, Grumeti, Ikorongo Controlled Areas and the Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya.

Established in 1951, the Serengeti National Park permanently protects close to 6,000 square miles of eternal wilderness with the highest concentration of large mammals in one of the oldest ecosystems on Earth. The famous female pilot and author Beryl Markham wrote of the Serengeti plains in 1942,“In the season of drought they are as dry and tawny as the coats of the lion that prowl them, and during the rains they provide the benison of soft grass to all the animals.”

The hunters, the hunted, the crawling and the flying all find their place in the unique plains and savannahs, while the great herds of wildebeest continue their millennia-old Great Migration for which the area is famous. Its familiarity in our consciousness is thanks, in no small part, to the work of Professor Bernhard Grzimek who, along with his son Michael, spent two years in the late 1950s documenting the migration paths of the wildebeest. The resulting film, The Serengeti Shall Not Die is arguably the most influential wildlife film ever made, winning the Best Documentary Oscar in 1959 and alerting the world to the plight of Africa’s wildlife. In the 1960s, Tanzania’s president declared that one of the country’s founding principles was safeguarding its wilderness. In 1981, the area was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

Written by Melissa Biggs Bradley

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