One of the best places to see animals in Tanzania is in the Selous Game Reserve. This huge reserve has high concentration of animals and a low concentration of tourists. Animals such as lion and leopard and elephant are present in huge concentrations. This is also true of the hoofed animal; the buffalo population stands in excess of 110,000. Waking in a morning, in your tented camp, to witness hundreds of buffalo and gnu coming to drink water from the Rufiji River is one reason among many to make Tanzania you safari destination.
The female Buffalo carry horns as well as the males and often the female horns are wider than the males, although they are usually slimmer then the male buffalo. The digestive system of the buffalo is the most efficient of all the herbivores allowing the buffalos to survive on plants other grazes cannot digest. The lion is the main enemy of the buffalo; the lion is very fond of buffalo meat.The buffalo have a reputation to be bad tempered and dangerous to humans. This ferocious reputation is a little unfair as like most animals they tend to avoid humans, unless harassed or wounded.
The Selous wildebeest or also known as the Nyassaland gnu has a grayish-yellowish body colour with a black beard and tail. As its name suggest it was first found in Nyassaland [now called Malawi] Because of disease that swept through the whole of Africa in the early 1900's this animal was almost wiped out and now the Selous is its last stronghold. This subspecies of the wildebeest is clearly different from its cousins in the rest of Africa. An interesting fact is that south of the Rufiji River this subspecies has a white inverted chevron across its nose.
North of the river, in the tourist areas only a very small percentage carry this marking, but they are all the same sub-species.The medium sized impala is probably the most graceful of all the antelopes. They occur in small bachelor herds or in breeding herds consisting of male and female with young. In the Mgeta River area just before the rains start bachelor herds can be seen up to 1,000 animals strong; a most remarkable sight. Impalas are easily spotted in the day and are tremendous jumpers especially if they are startled. When disturbed the males emit a short series of snorts and then takes off in a wonderful spectacle of leaps and bounds.
Mixed herds of impala, wildebeest, zebra and hartebeest are a common sight; as there is safety in numbers. Other animals to be seen are the large Kudu with their distinctive spiraled horns. They are well disguised and will need a keen eye to spot them. The Selous has huge herds of sable antelope and estimated 10,000 of them although they are rare in the tourist parts of this huge reserve.The largest of antelopes is the Eland which can grow to a staggering 700kg and is able to jump up to two meters from a standing position. They are gregarious creatures, moving through the Selous in herds of up to 100 animals.
The Selous Eland bulls are known for their massive horns longer than all the other East African Eland. The Rufiji river is the southern most limit of the giraffe in East Africa; and as the national symbol and therefore the giraffe cannot be hunted anywhere in Tanzania.Wart hogs are common in the Selous and are often seen running in lines with their tales up or kneeling on their front legs feeding on short grass, roots or fruit. They need water daily so tend stay close to water. Old males can grow enormous tusks with are used as weapons against predators.
A Selous safari is the ideal place to experience Africa and to see animals in huge numbers. The Northern areas contain the few tourist lodges of the reserve and to choose a camp close to the Rufiji River will be a safari experience unsurpassed anywhere in Africa..For a more comprehensive guide to the Selous game reserve and Lions Safaris in Tanzania or travel in Tanzania see http://www.
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By: Ian Williamson