The Serengeti National Park is a Tanzanian national park in the Serengeti ecosystem in the Mara and Simiyu regions. It is famous for its annual migration of over 1.5 million white bearded (or brindled) wildebeest and 250,000 zebra and for its numerous Nile crocodile.
As well as the migration of ungulates, the park is well known for its healthy stock of other resident wildlife, particularly the "big five", named for the five most prized trophies taken by hunters:
- Masai Lion: the Serengeti is believed to hold the largest population of lions in Africa due in part to the abundance of prey species. More than 3,000 lions live in this ecosystem.
- African Leopard: these reclusive predators are commonly seen in the Seronera region but are present throughout the national park with the population at around 1,000.
- African Bush Elephant: the herds are recovering from population lows in the 1980s caused by poaching and are largely located in the northern regions of the park.
- Eastern Black Rhinoceros: mainly found around the kopjes in the centre of the park, very few individuals remain due to rampant poaching. Individuals from the Masai Mara Reserve cross the park border and enter Serengeti from the northern section at times.
- African Buffalo: still abundant and present in healthy numbers.
- Tanzanian Cheetah: the Tanzanian cheetah's range has high density in Tanzania and Kenya. The rate of cub mortality varies up to 90% in the Serengeti ecosystem.
The park also supports many other species, including Thomson's and Grant's gazelle, topi, eland, waterbuck, spotted hyena, striped hyena, baboon, impala, East African wild dog, and Masai giraffe. The park also boasts about 500 bird species, including ostrich, secretary bird, Kori bustard, crowned crane, marabou stork, martial eagle, lovebirds, and many species of vultures.
Administration and Protection:
Because of its biodiversity and ecological significance, the park has been listed by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization as a World
Heritage Site. As a national park, it is designated as a Category II protected area under the system developed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, which means that it should be managed, through either a legal instrument or another effective means, to protect the ecosystem or ecological processes as a whole.
The administrative body for all parks in Tanzania is the Tanzania National Parks Authority. Myles Turner was one of the park's first game wardens and is credited with bringing its rampant poaching under control. His autobiography, My Serengeti Years: The Memoirs of an African Game Warden, provides a detailed history of the park's early years.
"Snapshot Serengeti" is a science project by the University of Minnesota Lion Project, which seeks to classify over 30 species of animals within the park using 225 camera traps to better understand how they interact with each other and lions.