A Quick Walkthrough – Selous Game Reserve

A Quick Walkthrough – Selous Game Reserve

The Selous Game Reserve is located in the south of Tanzania. It is a protected area and covers 19,000 sq mi (50,000 km2). The game reserve also has added buffer zones.

In 1982, the Selous Game Reserve was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It earned this award because of its undisturbed nature and diverse wildlife species. Some of the species in the Reserve include the African Bush Elephant, the African Lion, the Black Rhino, the East African Wild Dog, the Cape Buffalo, the Hippopotamus, the Nile Crocodile, the Masai Giraffe, and the Plains Zebra.

No humans can permanently reside within the Selous Game Reserve. The Tanzanian Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism’s Wildlife Division controls all human entry and exit.

Selous Game Reserve History

Hermann von Wissmann, the Tanzanian German Governor, first declared the Selous Game Reserve a protected area in 1896. In 1905, it became a hunting reserve.

Frederick Selous
Frederick Selous

The Selous Game Reserve was named in honor of an early conservationist and well-known game hunter, Frederick Selous. Selous passed away in 1971 at Beho Beho in the Reserve territory during World War I, where he fought against the Germans. Beho Beho also claimed the death of Keith Johnston, a Scottish cartographer, and explorer. Johnston passed away during a Royal Geographical Society expedition that he led alongside Joseph Thomson toward the Great Lakes of Africa.

The Selous Game Reserve has also earned the title of a Lion Conservation Unit in 2005.

While it was not well-received by organizations and environmentalists like the Rainforest Rescue and the Uranium-Network, UNESCO approved a boundary change for uranium deposits.

John Pombe Magufuli, the former Tanzanian President, was also given construction approval for the Stiegler Gorge Hydroelectric Power Station (2,115 MW) over the Rufiji River. The power station aims to provide 2,100 MW of electricity to Tanzania. This amount will triple the country’s current installed capacity of 562 MW. The hydropower project began on the 26th of July 2019, and completion is estimated by 2022.

However, because thousands of Tanzanian residents depend on the river for agriculture and fishing, the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) has criticized the hydropower project. The organization claims the Government has failed to consider the impact that flooding approximately 1,000 km2 will have on the residents and biodiversity of the Selous Game Reserve.


The Selous Game Reserve has many interesting tourist attractions, such as the Rufiji River. This river flows across from the Stiegler Gorge and Mafia Island into the Indian Ocean. Its canyon is 100m deep and 100m wide.


Flora in the Selous Game Reserve includes typical Acacia savanna, grassland, extensive Miombo woodlands, and wetlands.

While the fauna populace is high, the Reserve is large, and animal density levels are lower than in other northern Tanzanian tourist circuits. The Selous Game Reserve had the largest elephant populace in 1976, with herds totaling approximately 109,000 elephants. However, the number had dropped by 66% from 2009 – 2013, with an estimated 13,000 elephants recorded in 2013. Many sources hold businessmen and officials who help poachers and corrupt politicians accountable for this decrease.

Giraffes walking around Miombo woodlands
Giraffes walking around Miombo woodlands

A segment in the north side of the Selous Game Reserve along the Rufiji River was made a designated photography zone. This section is popular amongst tourists. Other areas in the Selous Game Reserve remain open for game hunting through privately hired hunting permits.

The Selous Game Reserve also offers many high-end camp and lodge accommodations. These are mainly situated along the waterways of the Reserve. Most Selous Game Reserve visitors arrive from Dar es Salaam via small aircraft since road access can be challenging. Access via train is also available. The Reserve permits boat trips (popular on the Rufiji) and walking safaris.

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