The Selous Game Reserve was first designated as an area for protection in 1896 by the German Governor of Tanganyika Hermann von Wissmann.

In 1905, it was developed into a hunting reserve and in 1922 received its name – Selous Game Reserve – and was formally founded (its use as a hunting reserve is no long over).

It was named after the famous hunter and friend of colonialist Cecil Rhodes, Frederick Courtney Selous. He died in 1917 at the hand of a German sniper and was buried in the game reserve in Beho Beho.

Only in the 1940s did it reach such a huge size, and in 1982 it was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In 2019, the Tanzanian government under President Magufuli carved out a sizable chunk of the territory to create a new national park, put under the control of TANAPA, the national park agency.

President Magufuli also planned the erection of a mega dam to support surrounding villages with hydroelectricity. This decision has been hugely criticized by conservationists and economists alike. 

Wildlife in Selous Game Reserve

Selous boasts some of the best wildlife densities in Tanzania.

The reserve has 40,000 hippos, 120,000-150,000 buffalo, 100,000 wildebeests, and 35,000 zebras inhabit an area the size of Denmark.

The sheer amount of prey attracts a diversity of predators including 4,000 lions, as well as leopards, hyenas and crocodiles. Some rarer species include the African wild dog, of which 50% of its population live in Selous, as well as the sable and puku antelopes.

It is also one of the few places in Africa where the endangered black rhino can be found. Bird enthusiasts will also cherish this place, as 440 different species of bird populate this area. These can best be discovered by a boat safari. 

When to visit Selous Game Reserve

Like most national parks in Tanzania, the dry season from June to October is perfect for game viewing, as the vegetation is more sparse, making it easier to spot animals.

March to May and late October to mid-December is the rainy season, which makes many of the roads impassable and animals harder to spot.

For bird enthusiasts, we also recommend the shorter dry season from mid-December to March, as many migratory birds then settle in Selous. If the scarce wild dog is what you are after, June to August is perfect, as this is their denning season.

Things to do in the Selous Game Reserve

There are a number of ways to explore the park, including game drives, river rafting safaris, boat cruises, fishing and walking safaris.

Hot air balloon safaris and fly camping are also possible.

Bird enthusiasts can watch the 440 species from a boat, also taking in views of hippo pods and crocodiles, waiting for prey.

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