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Photographic Highlights of Southern Tanzania

Southern Tanzania is home to two of the largest conservation ecosystems on earth, two vast wilderness areas hosting important populations of some of Africa's most endangered species. The Selous Game Reserve (21,000 square miles) and Ruaha National Park (7,800 square miles) are also very beautiful and game-rich travel destinations offering some unique highlights for photographers.

 

 

Selous Game Reserve 

Rufiji River - The lifeblood of Selous is the Rufiji, Tanzania's largest river. The Rufiji and its system of lakes provide critical sustenance to the Reserve's abundant wildlife, and are also the landscape highlight of the Selous. Towering borassus and doum palm trees line the banks, while birdsong and grunting hippos add to the sensual overload - the scene is set for some of Africa's most spectacular sunsets.

 

 

Wild dogs - It is estimated that the Selous and its surrounding buffer zones are home to roughly 1/3 of Africa's wild dog population. Vast, devoid of human settlement, and with abundant prey species, the Selous is ideal habitat for these highly endangered carnivores. Still, given their scarcity and massive home ranges, seeing wild dogs is always an unexpected privilege.

 

 

 

Giraffe and crocodiles - Selous is home to a great abundance and diversity of plains game, but giraffe are over-represented relative to just about anywhere else in Africa. And while the crocodiles of the Rufiji can't quite match those of the Mara for size, their concentration is unrivalled - there's probably not a river in Africa where one stands a lesser chance of successfully swimming from one bank to the other.

 

Ruaha National Park

Lions - Together with it's surrounding Wildlife Management Areas, the Ruaha is part of a 17,000 square mile ecosystem that hosts more than 10% of Africa's remaining lions. Given the precipitous decline in lion numbers across the continent, the importance of Ruaha's prides can hardly be overstated. But don't expect males with big, bushy beards - for reasons not fully understood, the lions of Selous and Ruaha, while physically impressive, have sparse manes.

 

 

Elephants - The Ruaha is a very dry Park, criss-crossed by a handful of seasonal rivers, the largest of which is the Ruaha (a tributary of the Rufiji). Even the Ruaha doesn't flow all year, and the Park's elephants are instrumental in sustaining life - these giant pachyderms are able to smell underground aquifers and dig holes to expose subterannean water, which is then accessible to other species as well. Elephants are under intense poaching pressure across East Africa, but Ruaha remains a relative sanctuary in an otherwise discouraging landscape.

 

 

 

Buffalo - It takes a significant herbivore population to sustain over 3,400 lions, and this burden falls mostly on Ruaha's large buffalo herds. Under near constant pressure from lions, these angry ungulates are not to be trifled with, but they do make for personality-rich photographic subjects.

 

 

Click here to see more photos from Pierre's recent safari to southern Tanzania.

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