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Serengeti-Ngorongoro Biosphere Reserve, Tanzania

This biosphere reserve covers a surface area of 4,397,314 ha and was originally designated in 1981. It includes the Serengeti National Park and the Ngorongoro Conservation Area in the north of Tanzania. It supports about 1.5 million wildebeest, 900,000 Thompson gazelle and 300,000 zebra. Topis, giraffes, black rhino, antelopes and primates are also well represented. The large herbivores support five main predator species including lions, leopards, cheetahs, spotted hyenas and wild dogs. The reserve is also home to the indigenous Maasai people with a fast-growing tourist industry.

Designation date: 1981


Regional network:  AfriMAB

Ecosystem-based network: 




    Surface : 2,305,100 ha

    • Core area(s): N/A
    • Buffer zone(s): N/A
    • Transition zone(s): N/A

    Location: 01°30' to 03°20'S; 34°00' to 35°15'E

    Administrative Authorities

    Tanzania National Parks Authority (TANAPA) and Ngorongoro Conservation Area (NCA) Authority

    Serengeti National Park
    P.O. Box 3134

    Tel.: (255.68) 62 29 83


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    Ecological Characteristics

    This biosphere reserve covers 1,476,300 hectares of the Serengeti National Park and 828,800 hectares of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area in the north of Tanzania. The plains of the Serengeti are mostly formed by crystalline rocks overlaid by volcanic ash with numerous rock outcrops (kopjes). The open plain raises up to the crater highlands comprising the volcanic massifs with up to 3,587 meters above sea level. The Ngorongoro crater is a giant caldera some 16-19 km in diameter with the floor lying 400–600 meters below the rim. 
    A variable climate and divers landforms have resulted in several distinct habitats. Serengeti’s undulating plains are covered in grass but turn almost to desert during periods of severe drought. Some woodlands are found along the rivers. More elevated areas are covered by scrub, heath and remains of the montane forest, notably on the upper slopes within the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. 
    The Serengeti and Ngorongoro regions are known for their vast herds of ungulates which migrate following the water supply. Most common are the Thomson’s gazelle (Gazella thomsoni), wildebeest (Connochaetes taurinus), zebra (Equus burchelli), Grant’s gazelle (Gazella granti) and buffalo (Syncerus caffer). The accompanying predators include lion (Panthera leo), leopard (Panthera pardus), cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus), jackal (Canis aureus, C. adustus) and wild dog (Lycaon pictus). There is a noteworthy black rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis) population. 



    Socio-Economic Characteristics

    Around 150,000-200,000 tourists visit the region every year, mostly for eco-friendly activities. Ngorongoro Conservation Area, however, has been used by man for hunting and pastures for a long time. Maasai still use parts of the region for livestock raising, leading to the overgrazing in some areas. Poaching is a serious problem in the biosphere reserve, while anti-poaching activities are hampered by lack of fuel and equipment. Serengeti has been a centre for research over the last decades.






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    Last updated: February 2019