Lying between Lake Victoria to the west and the Eastern Rift Valley, this famous National Park is part of the East African central plateau. The park is bordered to the north by the Masai Mara Reserve (IBA KE050), to the north-west by the Ikorongo Game Reserve. To the south-west the Serengeti borders the extensive Maswa Game Reserve (TZ015) and to the east Ngorongoro Conservation Area (TZ013). Land sloping westward from Ngorongoro is primarily short-grass plains. This habitat gives way to long-grass plains and various forms of wooded and bushed grassland to the west and north, dominated by Acacia thorn-trees. There are extensive thickets of Acacia drepanolobium in the south-west and rich riverine forest along the Grumeti river. Rock kopjes are a feature of the open grassland and rocky hills form ridges in central and western areas. There are few wetlands, but there are many small seasonal rain-fed pools. The park drains westward towards Lake Victoria, the main rivers being the Mbalageti and Grumeti while the larger Mara river passes through the northern section close to the Kenyan border.
See Box and Tables 2 and 3 for key species. Estimates of the number of species recorded from the park vary from 458 (Sinclair and Arcese 1995) to 505 (Schmidl 1982). A further 18 species were added to Schmidl’s list in 1990 of which two, Glareola nordmanni and Apalis karamojae, are of global conservation concern. Ardeola idae is a regular visitor in low numbers. The status of Circus macrourus is unclear as there are few dated records, although it has been described as locally common. Gallinago media has been recorded in November and December around rain-fed pools. There is a single record of Hirundo atrocaerulea from 1994.A remarkable feature of the avifauna is that three Tanzanian endemics occur in substantial numbers yet none has so far been recorded across the Kenya border in the Masai Mara. Two of these, Francolinus rufopictus and Histurgops ruficauda, are not considered globally threatened. Agapornis fischeri is locally common in mature Acacia woodland, a habitat in which Parus fringillinus is also frequent. Flocks of Prionops poliolophus have been noted from Acacia robusta woodland along the Duma river and the lower slopes of the Varichoro Hills. Apalis karamojae occurs in habitat where Acacia drepanolobium is well represented. Phoenicopterus minor are regular visitors to Lake Lagarja, but numbers fluctuate widely depending on water and salinity levels in other Rift Valley lakes as well as in Lagarja. Seasonal pools are important breeding sites for species such as Recurvirostra avosetta and Himantopus himantopus. The park is an important feeding area for Gyps rueppellii.
Non-bird biodiversity: The Serengeti ecosystem holds the largest remaining concentration of large mammals in the world, more than 2.5 million animals. The remaining six individuals of Diceros bicornis (CR) are seriously threatened. There are relatively small populations of Loxodonta africana (EN) and a few Lycaon pictus (EN) may still occur. Panthera leo (VU) and Acinonyx jubatus (VU) are found in reasonable numbers.
Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
The Serengeti was designated a protected area in 1940, becoming Tanzania’s first National Park in 1951. The Government of Tanzania continues to upgrade the quality of the ‘buffer zone’ around the Serengeti and has recently established the Grumeti and Ikorongo Game Reserves, an increase in protected status for these areas from the largely ineffective Game Controlled Areas. An increasing human population around the park, particularly in western areas, is a threat and leads to increasing isolation of the site. A proposal to build a railway linking Musoma with Arusha to carry Ugandan goods to Tanga rather than Mombasa is a potential threat.
BirdLife International (2018) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Serengeti National Park. Downloaded from
http://www.birdlife.org on 19/03/2018.