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The Selous And The Rest Of The Animals

   By: Ian Williamson

So what about the rest of the animals in the Selous, Africa's biggest game reserve? Other wildlife it is usually delegated, at best, to a footnote at the end of a travel guide. Lumped together as also ran but didn't quite make the grade. The safari vehicles focused, searching only for the big five; passing by the other spectacular mammals, birds, reptiles and insects; that are fascinating and an essential part of the environment. Big is beautiful is the cry of the safari makers.

The red colobus monkey, is protected by the Selous although the territory lays outside the protected area. Numbers are down to 400 but the situation is improving and if you ask, in advance, for special permission from the Selous management you will be able to get special access to enter this area. An armed ranger will escort you into the forested area where the monkey can easily be observed.

Along the Rufiji River and the surrounding lakes the crocodile is abundant. This is the world's largest reptile and here in the Selous can grow up to five meters long. They live mainly on fish but will eat small or even large mammals when they come to the river to drink. On land they can lift their entire body off the ground and move at high speed, many humans fall victim to the crocodile where settlements are situated on the banks of the river.

Snakes are very common in the park but most are not poisonous and snakes will avoid humans whenever possible and therefore snake bites are extremely rare. Some of the snakes include green and also black mambas, puff adders, spitting cobras and gaboon vipers. Pythons have been known to catch and strangle mammals as large as impala and then proceed to swallow them whole.

An unusual way to observe the wildlife is from the river and lakes. The Rufiji River is along wide river and you may be forgiven for thinking here that the lack of water is not an issue in Africa. In the Beho Beho part of the Selous aluminum boats with outboard motors carry passengers on the Lake Tagalala. There is a labyrinth of small channels, swamps and minor lakes in this area. Fishing is allowed, provided a permit is obtained from your camp. Tiger fish, catfish and squeakers are the normal catches. Although every few years visitor from the sea find themselves bagged by a very surprised visitor.This last month a visitor managed to catch a bull shark!

The Selous is a huge reserve and an alternative to the over visited Serengeti. Now with park fees doubling for the Serengeti because the tourist wanting to visit are becoming unsustainable the Selous is the place to visit to get away from the crowds and for a truly out of Africa experience.

For a more comprehensive guide to Tanzania and the Selous Game Reserve contact us or Using responsible tourism to change lives.

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