The Call of the Savannah

Located in northeast Tanzania, Tarangire (pronounced taran-geery) National Park is the sixth largest in the country. The park is a little over 1,000 square miles and is named for the namesake river that runs through it. It is part of the Tarangire ecosystem that extends from “Kenyan border into the Masai Steppe.” The most popular activity for visitors visiting Tarangire National Parks is safari tours. The park is known for the herds of elephants and they are easily sighted on a safari. Tarangire is also home to large populations lions, zebras and wildebeests. The national park is also known for its bird species—up to 500 different species have been seen in the park.

photo: Jen Voloshin

photo: Jen Voloshin

Tarangire’s landscape is very dry, with open woodlands filled with swamps, termite mounds, acacia thickets and baobab trees. The wet season is a stark contrast from dry season, when animals migrate to the park for water—as the Tarangire River flows year-round.

Migration has been a topic of conversation due to population growth. The growing population is currently encroaching on the wildlife corridors and dispersal areas around the national park, as animals migrate throughout the Tarangire ecosystem, following the water. Lake Manyara is located very close to Tarangire and is where most animals migrate. According the Wildlife Conservation Society, “Five of the nine main wildlife migration routes have disappeared, and the others are under increasing threat from agricultural activity. Isolation of [Tarangire] would lead to a severe decline in wildlife populations.”

One of the leading researchers on Tanzania wildlife migration is Dr. Charles Foley; his long-term work focuses on “on identifying and protecting wildlife migration corridors and dispersal areas outside the wildlife parks.” He started focusing on conserving elephant populations in the area and started the second longest running elephant research project in Africa. The “Tarangire Elephant Project” has led to the largest identification database for elephants. After, he instituted the first successful implementation of conservation easement in Simanjiro—where a zone exclusively fir grazing and migration was created—a key goal is to continue to expand the easement program in at least 2 more key villages surrounding the Tarangire. Dr. Foley and the project hope that conservation easements will help to end human-elephant conflicts and increase the well-being of other Tarangire wildlife.

photo: Jen Voloshin

photo: Jen Voloshin

My mom traveled to Africa last fall on vacation and visited many parks in Tanzania, she told me her favorite park “by far” was Tarangire National Park. She told me of the baobab trees and the many lion cubs she saw throughout her tour. Her raving has convinced me to put Tarangire on the top of my must-see places.