Serengeti National Park is a national park located in northwest Tanzania (to the west of the Mount Kilimanjaro region). The Park covers Tanzania’s Mara and Simiyu regions (an area of 14,750 sq, kilometers), and is known for the annual migration of over 1.5 million white-bearded wildebeest and 250,00 zebras, as well as numerous Nile Crocodiles and honey badgers.
The reason why the Park was set up by Tanzania’s British colonial rulers was their concern that (by the early 20th century) too many lions were being killed by foreigners engaging in safaris in northern Tanzania, threatening the local populations of lions. One visitor, American hunter Stewart Edward White, prompted such concerns when he conducted a three-month safari in the Serengeti region during the 1920s, where he and his companions shot 50 lions. In response, the British colonial authorities who governed over Tanzania at the time set up a partial game reserve of 800 acres in 1921 and a full one in 1929. Such actions resulted in the formal establishment of Serengeti National Park in 1951.
Re the Serengeti name, despite rumors that the Park was named after an Italian explorer or hunter, the name “Serengeti” actually come from the word used by the Maasai ethnic group (“siringet”) to describe an endless plain, or in their words “the place where the land runs forever”.
To help complete the process of making Serengeti National Park a full-fledged game reserve, the British authorities evicted the Maasai people from the Park in 1959, and relocated them to the Ngorongoto Conservation Area. These days, with Serengeti being the oldest national park in Tanzania, it is currently a major engine to Tanzania’s current tourism industry, driven by eco-tourists who wish to explore its natural wonders (including Mount Kilimanjaro and surrounding areas), as well as to conduct photo safaris of Serengeti’s diverse range of wildlife (which includes an estimated 2,500 lions and over a million wildebeest, as well as zebra, cheetahs, African leopards, elephants, rhinos, gazelle, impala, hartebeest, topi, buffalo, and waterbuck, among other species.
An estimated 350,000 tourists currently visit Serengeti National Park. Within the park, the only humans that are allowed to reside there are the staff of the Tanzania National Parks Authority, researchers & staff from the Frankfurt Zoological Society, and staff working in the various lodges, campsites and hotels within the Park. The main settlement of Seronera acts as the Park’s main headquarters and residence of much of the research staff. Due to the Park’s biodiversity and ecological significance, it has been listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.
The westernmost part of the Park is a short distance from Lake Victoria. Because of recent droughts, the Tanzanian government is considering expanding Serengeti Park into Lake Victoria itself, in order to address concerns about droughts in the near future and their potential impact on the local wildlife.