Nature Explored

by Chris Dunford








Selous Game Reserve Tanzania

Giraffic Park

Selous Game Reserve covers an area of 54600km2. That's four times bigger than the Serengeti, twice the size of The Kruger National Park and Bigger than the country of Switzerland. Rufiji River and Impala Camp Airstrip
Rufiji river and Impala Camp airstrip

It is named after Englishman Sir Frederick Courteney Selous, a big game hunter and conservationist who died at Beho Beho fighting the Germans in WW1.

Most of the Reserve is used for hunting but 8% in the North (where the game densities are at their highest) is designated for photographic safaris.

The Rufiji river drains the whole of the area from the Southern highlands and turns East in the North of the Reserve where it passes a series of lakes which offer exceptional wildlife viewing from boats.

Elevation is from 80m in the North to 1300m in the Mbarika mountains in the Southwest.

The area receives rainfall ranging from 750mm in the East to 1300mm in the West.

Soils are generally thin and poor. They are commomly alluvial and underlain by the Karoo sandstone. Vegetation habitats include acacia-terminalia woodlands and savannah in the North with wetlands and a large area of miombo woodlands in the rest of the reserve. It is hilly especially towards the south.

Selous:  The Biggest Game Reserve in The World

There are 2149 recorded species of plants, and there may be many more in the interior.

There is a huge amount of game in the Park; 13,000 elephants, (numbers have plummeted due to poaching since 2006), 130,000 buffalos, 27,000 hippos, 3000 lions, and it is a major stronghold for African hunting dogs with as many as 1500. 430 species of birds have been seen. There are so many giraffes that it is sometimes known locally as 'Giraffic Park'. There are also a few (100-400) black rhino in several scattered populations although these are always under threat because rhino horn is currently being sold for over £40000 per kilo on the black market. They are only rarely seen and are kept under guard as far as possible. Resident giraffe in Impala camp
Resident giraffe in Impala camp

Threats are from poaching, both for ivory as a result of a huge increase in demand from China and the Far East since 2009, and bushmeat for the local markets, and mineral exploitation ie. part of the reserve boundary in the South was redifined to allow for Uranium Mining, although other forested areas are meant to be added to the reserve to compensate for this. There is also a small amount of illegal logging although it remains low at present.

Game viewing and photography, especially from small boats, is superb and gives a new way to approach wildlife very closely. Crocodiles and hippos are particularly good to see like this, as well as the many types of birds that depend on the river. Hippopotamus in the shallows
Hippopotamus in the shallows

Great fishing with rod and line can also be had, especially for tigerfish and some very large catfish.

There are only a few tented camps located in the North of the reserve, and these tend to be small and very luxurious. Many of the guides are ex Park Rangers and have an enormous knowledge of the plants and animals of Selous.

Watch the Selous video.