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Selous National Parks





About Selous Park

The Selous Game Reserve is the largest protected wet wilderness area in Africa and indeed in the world. It is 54,000 square miles, making up almost 6% of Tanzania's land surface.


The park was originally gazetted by the German colonial government in 1905 and was renamed by the British after World War I when Germany lost the war.

The park has undergone a number of changes and was originally created for hunters who were attracted to the huge elephant herds of southern Tanzania. After independence, Tanzania's first President, Julius Nyerere, placed a high priority on conservation and protection of wildlife and expanded the Selous Game Reserve to its present boundaries.


The primary purpose of the Reserve was for hunting and it was not until the late 1960s that a small area in the northern part of the Reserve was allocated for safari tourism.



There are a total of 47 hunting blocks5 that have been allocated over the years, and 4 of these blocks are now reserved for safari tourism. So, although the Reserve is huge, it is a smaller area that is open for safari. Approximately 2,500 square miles in the northern "photographic" zone are dedicated to tourism. This is approximately half the size of the Serengeti National Park.

The primary difference between a national park and a game reserve is that hunting is allowed in reserves and prohibited in national parks. The majority of the income from this Reserve comes from hunting and is an important source of revenue for the government. The attractions of the Selous are its more remote location, fewer tourists, the ability to do game walks and boat safaris on the Rufiji River. The River has an incredible number of crocodiles, hippos and elephants. The most recent elephant census estimates there are 60,000 elephants in the Selous, which accounts for over 50% of all the elephants in Tanzania.

Elephants are rarely seen in large herds in the Selous, but rather in smaller groups led by matriarchs. The Selous also has the world's largest population of wild dogs, estimate in recent surveys as high as 1,000 individuals. Ruaha NP has the second largest population of wild dog in Africa. However, due to the size of the reserve, it is often still hard to spot the wild dogs. The Selous is a birder's paradise with more than 430 recorded species that have been positively identified in the Reserve.





The Selous Game Reserve, with an area of about 55,000 sq. km, is the largest well-watered wildlife sanctuary in Africa, and one of the largest protected areas in the world. Its size is simply stunning, bigger than Switzerland, uninhabited and little touched by human interference. It is perhaps the most pristine wilderness still remaining in Africa, with a wide variety of wildlife habitats, including open grasslands, Acacia and miombo woodlands, swamps and riverine forests in the many tributaries of the mighty Rufiji River which flows through the reserve. Due to its unique ecological importance, it was designated a World Heritage Site by the United Nations in 1982.


Its wildlife is spectacular, with some of its mammal and reptile populations are the largest in Africa, namely buffaloes, elephants, hippos, wild dogs and crocodiles. Other wildlife include the wildebeest, impala, waterbuck, zebra, eland, the greater kudu, sable antelopes, giraffe, baboon, the vervet and blue monkeys, and the black and white colobus monkey which can be seen in certain riverine forests moving from tree to tree in family groups. There is a large population of predators including lions, leopards, cheetah and the spotted hyena, and about 440 species of birds in the Selous, of both resident and migratory birds.


Named after Captain Frederick Courtney Selous, a legendary 19th century naturalist, explorer and hunter, Selous  Game Reserve was founded in 1905. It is situated in the southern part Tanzania, bordered by Mikumi National Park to the northwest and by Udzungwa Mountains National Park and Kibasira Swamp to the west. The greater part of northern Selous is reserved for photographic safaris, and it is one of the most beautiful and game rich areas in the whole ecosystem.






The Selous wilderness meets the kind of dream visitors have of Africa of the early European explorers like Dr. Livingstone and Henry Stanley. The Reserve offers a wider variety of game viewing opportunities to the visitor, including the thrilling experience of a foot safari through game inhabited bushes in the company of an armed ranger. The many waterways in the Reserve provide an excellent natural setting for boat safaris, both for game viewing and bird watching.


This is in addition to the game drives in 4X4 motor vehicles which combined with boat and walking safaris, offer an exciting and richer game viewing itinerary unique to the Selous Game Reserve.

The best time to visit the Selous is from June to October. During the long rains, between March and May, some parts of the Selous become impassable and are temporarily closed for game drives.