The Selous is one of the largest faunal reserves of the world and the largest Game Reserve in Africa; four times the size of the Serengeti – covering 55,000sqkm, more than 5% of Tanzania’s total area and larger than Switzerland. It was named after Englishman Sir Frederick Selous, a famous big game hunter and early conservationist, who died at Beho Beho in this territory in 1917 while fighting against the Germans during World War I. The Selous was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1982 due to the diversity of its wildlife and undisturbed nature.
The area has remained one of the untouched gems of Tanzania’s national parks and game reserves. There are large populations of elephants in the park with other well-known animals including hippos that inhabit the river systems; depleted numbers of the black rhino; large herds of buffalos, lions and the area’s rare and endangered wild dogs patrol the Reserve.
Also found here are nyasaland gnu, brindled gnu, hartebeest, greater kudu, sable antelope, eland, reedbuck, bushbuck, waterbuck, warthog, zebras, giraffes, wildebeest, leopard, cheetah.
There are over 350 species of birds including African snipe, Bataleur eagle, Crested lark, Green-headed oriole, Knob-billed duck, herons, kingfishers, geese and Southern Ground hornbill.
Reptiles such as crocodiles and various snakes and lizards are also found.
A section of the northern Selous along the Rufiji River has been designated a photographic zone with several high-end lodges and camps mainly situated along the river and lake systems in this area. Rather difficult road access means most visitors conveniently fly from/to Dar es Salaam.
Interesting places in the park include the Rufiji River, which flows into the Indian Ocean opposite Mafia Island and the Stiegler Gorge, a canyon of 100 metres depth and 100 metres width.
Habitats include grassland, typical Acacia savanna, wetlands and extensive Miombo woodlands. Walking safaris are permitted in the Selous, and boat trips on the Rufiji are a popular activity.