The vast Serengeti ecosytem encompasses an almost continuous wildlife area of over 30,000 square kilometres, comprising the Serengeti National Park itself, the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Maswa Game Reserve, the Loliondo, Grumeti and Ikorongo Controlled Areas and the Maasai Mara National Reserve in neighbouring Kenya.
It is a world heritage site and is home to the Big Five, as well as over 70 smaller mammal species and more than 540 bird species, both residents and migrants. The Serengeti is renowned for its large golden-maned lion population and is one of the best places to observe prides in their natural environment. Leopards haunt the acacia trees lining the Seronera River, while cheetahs prowl south-eastern plains. All three African jackal species occur here, alongside the spotted hyena and a host of more elusive small predators, ranging from the insectivorous aardwolf to the beautiful long-legged serval cat.
However, it is the great migration for which the 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. It is one of the last great migratory systems still intact and is truly a sight to behold.
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