The 2,850 km2, Tarangire National park lies at the core of 20,000 km2 semi-arid ecosystem that also incorporates several more-or-less contiquous Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) created since 2006 in consultation with local communities. The are the Randileni WMA to the north, the Levolosi WMA to the northwest, the Burunge WMA extending southwards across the Maasai steppes. Inherently drier than the Serengeti, and less well publicised, Tarangire National Park is nevertheless a highly rewarding wildlife destination, especially during the latter half of the year, when it is a redommended inclusion on any safari itinerary of a week or longer. The park is best known for its year-round proliferation of elephant, but predators are also well represented, the birdlife is consistently rewading, and large herds of migrant grazers are drawn to the perennial water of the Tarangire River when other sources dry up.
Flora & Fauna
The Tarangire ecosystem tends to be more densely vegetated than the Serengeti, supporting a tangle of semi-arid acacia and mixed woodland. Its dominated geagraphic feature, bisecting the national park, is the Tarangire River, which is flanked by dense patches of elephant grass and a sporadic ribbon of riparian woodland dotted with the accasional palm tree. A striking feature of the park’s flora is the abundance of massive bulbous baobab tress that line the slope away from the river. It is an important stronghold for elephants, with a count of almost 2,500 individual in a census undertaken in 2009. and more recent studies studies suggest that along with the Serengeti, it is one if the few places in Tanzania where numbers are on the increase. The elephants of Tarangire have been less keen to cross outside the park boundaries in recent seasons, presumably as a result of an increased risk of poaching. It is difficult to put reliable figure on other wildlife populations associated with Tarangire, as the most recent census was completed around 30 years ago, but there is no reason to suppose that the numbers recorded then — incuding 25,000 wildebeest, 30,000 zebra, 6,000 buffalo, 2,700 giraffe, 5,500 eland, 30,000 impala and 2,000 warthog — significantly changed.
As with Serengeti-Ngorongoro, the greater Tarangire ecosystem is characterised by a great deal of seasonal migratory movement. During dry season, between july and November, elephant numbers can be little short of phenomenal, and large herds of zebra, wildebeest, antelope and other game are attracted to the near perennial waters of the Tarangire River. This is not to say, that Tarangire is without merit at other times of the year. True, alot of wildlife disperses outside the park during the wetter months — wildebeest and zebra northwest to the Rift Valley floor between Manyara and Natron, other species southward across the Maasi Steppes — but the park is also greener and and more scenic during the rain, and the birdlife can be astounding. Also, contraray to expectaions, lions seem to be easier to locate in the wet season, possibly because the tall grass makes them more incined to walk and hunt along roads, and to rest up on them at night.