Selous Game Reserve

By Farzad Ghotaslou Art in Tanzania internship

Selous Game Reserve is a popular Art in Tanzania safari destination starting from the Madale compound in Dar es Salaam.

The Tanzanian national park authority (TANAPA) in 2019 proposed and declared a change of identity of the northern sector of this reserve such that it is known as The Nyerere National Park as a way of honoring President Julius Nyerere who was the first president of Tanzania. Today the boundaries of this Nyerere National Park are being properly established but according to sources it is believed that this park will encompass the photographic sector in the northern part of the reserve and stretch out all the way to the wilderness area of River Rufiji to the south.

The Selous Game Reserve is the largest protected game reserve on the African continent covering an area of 54,600 square kilometers comprised of a vast wilderness with forests, grassy plains, mountains and open woodlands. This reserve was named after Frederick Selous Courtney who was a great Hunter and explorer. Selous Safari Holidays are highly recommended as in size this reserve is twice the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania and three times Kruger National Park in South Africa. This reserve was established in 1922, and in 1982 it was declared a UNESCO world heritage site thanks to its rich diversity of wildlife and uninterrupted nature.

The reserve is located in the southern part of Tanzania along the southern Tanzania safari circuit and offers the best escape from the large tourist crowds in the northern safari destinations like Serengeti while offering you a remarkable wildlife experience. It is considered to be among the hidden gems in the county and offers a wide range of Selous Game Reserve Camps for accommodation. The reserve is located about 219 kilometers from the busy city of Dar es salaam and may take about 4 hours drive.

Regions of Selous Game Reserve

Selous Game Reserve is crossed by River Rufiji (which is the largest river in the country) in the center and forms a network of swamps, channels and lakes to create a very unique ecological system. The reserve is separated into 2 major sections by the river which are the northern and southern Selous.

The Northern Selous: this region covers just about 5% of the total area of the reserve and hunting is completely prohibited in this area which has been exclusively set aside for photographic safaris. See, the best time to visit.

The southern Selous: the southern part of the river is separated into various hunting blocks each covering an area of approximately 1,000 square kilometers however we emphasize that we do not operate or even support wildlife hunting.

Since 2005, the protected area is considered a Lion Conservation Unit. A boundary change to allow the use of uranium deposits has been approved. The approval for the boundary change was given by the UNESCO and seriously criticized by environmentalists and organizations e.g., Uranium-Network and Rainforest Rescue.

Tanzania president John Magufuli has given an approval of constructing a new Stiegler’s Gorge Hydroelectric Power Station of 2,115MW over the Rufiji River. The power station will result to an additional 2,100 megawatts of electricity, more than tripling Tanzania’s installed hydropower capacity of 562 megawatts. The project started on 26 July 2019 and should be completed by 2022. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has criticised the Government of Tanzania for failing to consider, the impact of the flooding of nearly 1,000 km2 will have, on both the people and biodiversity of the reserve. Thousands of people are dependent on the river for fishing and agriculture.

Interesting places in the park include the Rufiji River, which flows into the Indian

Ocean opposite Mafia Island and the Stiegler Gorge, a canyon of 100 metres depth and 100 metres width. Habitats include grassland, typical Acacia savanna, wetlands and extensive Miombo woodlands. Although total wildlife populations are high, the reserve is large, and densities of animals are lower than in the more regularly visited northern tourist circuit of Tanzania. In 1976, the Selous Game Reserve contained about 109,000 elephants, then the largest population in the world. By 2013, the numbers had dropped to about 13,000 – including a 66% drop from 2009 to 2013. Sources blame corrupt politicians, officials and businessmen who help poachers.

The Rufiji River runs through the Selous, pretty much bisecting it into a northern and southern section, with most people tending to visit the area to the north of the river. Visitor numbers to the reserve are relatively low compared to those found in Tanzania’s northern parks, which is partly Selous’ attraction, especially to people returning to Tanzania for a second visit.

The park offers back-to-nature walking safaris along with boat trips along the river and more conventional vehicle safaris. There are several very good camps and exclusive lodges here to choose from, some based on the banks of the river and practically guaranteeing incredible game viewing on your doorstep. A Selous Game Reserve safari is best enjoyed between June – October and in January – early February, although visiting in the green season is equally good.

Most of the reserve remains set aside for game hunting through a number of privately leased hunting concessions, but a section of the northern park along the Rufiji River has been designated a photographic zone and is a popular tourist destination. There are several high-end lodges and camps mainly situated along the river and lake systems in this area. Rather difficult road access means most visitors arrive by small aircraft

from Dar es Salaam, though train access is also possible. Walking safaris are permitted in the Selous, and boat trips on the Rufiji are a popular activity.

The Rufiji River runs through the Selous, pretty much bisecting it into a northern and southern section, with most people tending to visit the area to the north of the river. Visitor numbers to the reserve are relatively low compared to those found in Tanzania’s northern parks, which is partly Selous’ attraction, especially to people returning to Tanzania for a second visit.

The park offers back-to-nature walking safaris along with boat trips along the river and more conventional vehicle safaris. There are several very good camps and exclusive lodges here to choose from, some based on the banks of the river and practically guaranteeing incredible game viewing on your doorstep. A Selous Game Reserve safari is best enjoyed between June – October and in January – early February, although visiting in the green season is equally good.

Wildlife

There are a number of wildlife mammals found within this national reserve among which are: approximately 145,000 buffalos, 4,000 Lions, 100,000 wildebeests, large hands of giraffes, 35000 zebras, 40000 hippos, 250,000 impalas, large numbers of Lichtenstein’s hartebeests, waterbucks, elands and bushbucks, in addition to leopards, crocodiles and hyenas. Furthermore, this is among the few wildlife sanctuaries on the African continent where you will find the puku antelopes the African wild dogs as well as the sable antelope. Previously the Selous was home to a very large number of elephants but because of excessive poaching these numbers have greatly reduced.

References:

  1. “UNESCO sacrifices wildlife preserve for uranium mine”. Rainforest Rescue. Retrieved 2021- 01-26.
  2. “Tanzania to Construct Hydropower Plant on National Reserve”. Voice of America. July 26, 2019.
  3. “Tanzania launches Rufiji power plant”. The EastAfrican. 26 July 2019.
  4. Fair, James (July 2019). “African reserve threatened by dam”. BBC Wildlife. p. 51
  5. Wikipedia

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