Selous National Park
The Selous National Park or the Selous game reserve as it is more commonly known is a UNESCO world heritage site, a distinction it received in the year 1982 as an acknowledgement to the vast variety of fauna that inhabit the reserve. The park is named after the Englishman Frederick Courtney Selous who was a conservationist, explorer, hunter and author of the late nineteenth century and the early part of the twentieth century. His books on the wilderness of the African landscape and the vivid descriptions became a sensation in England back in those days.
The Selous game reserve is home to a wide variety of animals and that too in large numbers where they live in their natural habitat without even the slightest of hints of any disturbances form the human race as the park is out of limits. In such a manner it is indeed quite distinct from the other Tanzania safari. The area of the park is around 54,600 sq km covering more than 5% of the total land area of Tanzania and greater than the size of Switzerland! Being a heritage site only a lucky few can experience the enigmatic world of the park. The ecosystem of the game reserve is very balanced and undisturbed. In fact it is what really adds beauty to the fantastic conservative environment.
The lifeblood of the park is the Rufiji River, as this river along with its tributaries forms a wide network of lagoons, lakes and other water channels. In addition to the services rendered by the river in context of the growth of the park, it also acts as a hub of animals especially during the dry season thereby making it an aid in the safaris conducted on the park. The animal population in the reserve comprises of various species that come under the endangered banner. For e.g. the park is home to approximately one-third of all the wild dogs present in the world. These usually become targets of farmers because of their tendency to hunt and roam over vast areas.
Also along the river rufiji one can find a host of animals ranging from varieties of antelopes, crocodiles and hippos to the ever mobile black and white colobus monkeys. The true concentration of the animals can be witnessed during the dry months when the entire animal kingdom gathers at the river. Some other species like the waterbuck, bushbuck and reedbuck gather on the edge of the water in Lake Tagalala.
The largest inhabitants of this vast reserve are the elephants which are in numbers to the tune of 60,000 or 70% of the Tanzanian elephant population. In addition to this, the water systems of the reserve are inhabited by about 40,000 hippopotamus and over 160,000 buffaloes. Other famous attractions are the wild dogs and about 5,000 lions that patrol the entire reserve. There is also a host of other animals that can be easily spotted here like the brindled gnu, Nyasaland Gnu, greater kudu, hartebeest, sable antelope, bushbuck, waterbuck, reedbuck, eland, giraffes, zebras, wildebeest, warthogs, cheetah and leopard. Also the reserve boasts of 350 species of birds that inhabit the area like the crested lark, Bataleur eagle, African snipe, green headed oriole herons, geese, kingfishers and southern ground hornbills.
The climate is the same as all the other national parks of the region and the best time to visit depends on the interest of the holiday enthusiasts i.e. if they intend to witness game then the ideal period would be June to November, whereas if they intend to witness the birds then the ideal time would be January to April.