The name Serengeti Migration conjures up images of millions of wildebeest, zebra, and gazelle meandering about their migration routes with pride of lions, sometimes sleeping, sometimes alert and carefully stalking their prey. Cheetah peers across the endless Serengeti Plains.
The park’s name “Serengeti” means endless plains and is derived from the Maasai language. Within Serengeti’s vast plains, scattered rock outcrops, patches of Acacia bush, forest, and occasional small rivers lies endless habitat for more than 3 million large mammals.
Serengeti Ecosystem is one of the oldest on earth. The essential features of climate, vegetation and fauna have barely changed in the past million years. Early man himself made an appearance in Olduvai Gorge about two million years ago. Some patterns of life, death, adaptation, and migration are as old as the hills themselves.
It is the migration for which Serengeti is perhaps most famous. Over a million wildebeest and about 200,000 zebras flow south from the northern hills to the southern plains for the short rains every October and November, and then swirl west and north after the long rains in April, May and June. So strong is the ancient instinct to move that no drought, gorge or crocodile infested river can hold them back. Along with the millions of wildebeest and hundreds of thousands of zebras and gazelles, there are over 30 other species of plains animals in the Serengeti ecosystem. These include the “big five” of the African safari circuit: elephant, lion, leopard, rhino, and buffalo. Other animal species in Serengeti include cheetah, hippo, giraffe, eland, impala, waterbuck, baboon, warthog, Kongoni, Topi, various species of monkeys and a rich selection of bird-life with nearly 500 species of birds recorded.