Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Ngorongoro Crater Area

A lion stands guard over the floor of the Ngorongoro Crater. Maybe we will see him on our safari in the Ngorongoro Crater Area (NCA) in Tanzania. (Marlene, thanks for the picture.)

The main feature of the NCA is the Ngorongoro Crater, which is the world's largest unbroken, unflooded volcanic caldera. The Crater, which formed when a giant volcano exploded and collapsed on itself some two to three million years ago, is 610 m (2,001 ft) deep and its floor covers 260 km² (102 square miles). Estimates of the height of the original volcano range from fifteen to nineteen thousand feet (4500 to 5800 metres) high.

Although thought of as "a natural enclosure" for a very wide variety of wildlife, up to 20% or more of the wildebeest and half the zebra populations vacate the Crater in the wet season.

An effect of this 'enclosure' situation means that the population of Ngorongoro lions is severely inbred, with many genetic problems passed from generation to generation. This is due to the very small amount of new bloodlines that enter the local gene pool, with very few migrating male lions entering the crater from the outside.

Animal populations in the crater include most of the species found in East Africa, but there are no impalas, topis, oribis, giraffes, or crocodiles.

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