Japan: Where tradition meets modernity

Sushi, ikebana, cherry blossoms, haiku, sumo and more... Japan is a rich showcase of heritage. But hold on, modern Japan reflects Western cultural influences too.

Ranu Joardar

Japan, a string of islands, has achieved remarkable success since the devastating Second World War. It is now the world's third-largest economy, a major aid donor, and plays a major role in the Asia-Pacific region. Let us know more about the country.


Though it remains unknown when humans first settled on the Japan archipelago, the excavations since the Second World War have unearthed a wide variety of Paleolithic tools. Japan's first emperor Jimmu Tenno came to power in 660 BC. Emperors continued to rule the country till the 12th Century AD when military rulers (shoguns) took over.

Europeans came to the country in 1543, introducing guns and Christianity. In 1635, shoguns banned the entry of foreigners, and citizens were not allowed to travel abroad. The isolation continued for 200 years until the shoguns were overthrown in 1868. This political revolution that brought an end to the military government was known as the Meiji Restoration. During the First World War, Japan fought alongside the U.S. After the bombing of the United States Navy fleet at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii by Japan on December 7, 1941, the U.S. joined the Second World War. From 1941-1945, Japan's military leaders fought against the U.S. and the Allied forces. In 1945, the U.S. army dropped atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, killing about 1,15,000 people. Japan surrendered a few days later.


Japan consists of a string of islands in a northeast-southwest arc that stretches for about 2,400 km in the western North Pacific Ocean. Though there are numerous small islands, the four main islands from north to south are - Hokkaido, Honshu, Shikoku, and Kyushu. Honshu is the largest island of the four. The national capital, Tokyo, in Honshu is one of the world's most populous cities.

The country's four-fifth portion of land is covered with mountains. It has about 200 volcanoes, 60 of which are active. Its highest peak is Mount Fuji, a dormant volcano since its last eruption in 1707. The mountain is part of the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park and is at the centre of a UNESCO World Heritage site designated in 2013.

The country is extremely prone to earthquakes as tectonic plates that form the Earth's crust meet nearby and they often move against each other. Every year, the country faces about 1,000 tremors, most of them minor. The major earthquakes in the country included the Tokyo-Yokohama in 1923 and Kobe in 1995. In 2011, the country witnessed a major earthquake that caused widespread damage on land and initiated a series of large tsunami waves. The tsunami caused the Fukushima nuclear accident, the second worst nuclear accident in the history of nuclear power generation. Some rivers flowing from the volcanic areas of northeastern Honshu are acidic and hence cannot be used for irrigation and other purposes.

Flora and fauna

Most of the original vegetation in Japan has been replaced by agriculture or foreign species. The Ryukyu and Bonin archipelagoes are covered by semitropical rainforest and have various kinds of mulberries, camphor, oaks, and ferns (including tree ferns). The cherry tree is one of the symbols of Japan.

According to the ancient Shinto religion, features like mountains and forests have their own spirits (souls).

The mammals in Japan are mostly found in the remote, heavily forested mountain regions. These animals include bears, wild boars, raccoon dogs (tanuki), foxes, deer (including sikas), antelope, hares, and weasels. The Japanese macaque or snow monkeys are important figures in myths and folktales. For instance, they are represented in the Buddhist adage "See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil."


The Japanese are known as hardworking people. At a very early age, children are taught self-discipline, respect, and cooperation.

The Japanese language is similar to Korean, though the Vocabularies are different. According to some linguists, Japanese contains some elements of the Southeast Asian languages. Earlier, the Japanese had no written form. The Japanese language was enriched with the introduction of the Chinese writing system and Chinese literature around the 4th Century AD.

One of the well-known forms of Japanese poetry is Haiku, which first emerged in Japanese literature during the 17th Century. It is an unrhymed poetic form of 17 syllables.

The native religion of Japan, Shinto, coexists with various sects of Buddhism, Christianity, and some ancient shamanistic practices, as well as a number of new religions that emerged since the 19th Century. Though children usually do not receive formal religious training, many Japanese homes have a Buddhist altar where various rituals are held to commemorate deceased family members.

Modern Japanese culture is a mix of both East and West influences. It has familiar elements of the West and also powerful and distinctive traditional cultural aesthetic. Western art forms have been embraced by the Japanese. The Japanese are one of the most literate peoples in the world.

Japanese food mostly contains rice, fish, and vegetables. Their cuisine is often served raw or only lightly cooked but is famous for its subtle and delicate flavours. Their best known dish sushi is cooked vinegared rice served with a variety of vegetables, sashimi (raw seafood), and egg garnish, and formed into various shapes. Another popular part of Japanese food is green tea, which is cultivated on or near the slopes of Mount Fuji in Shizuoka prefecture.

Due to their healthy diet, the Japanese people live a very long life (longer than any other people in the world). In March this year, the world's oldest person Kane Tanaka passed away at the age of 119.

Japan has a rich tradition of arts such as tea ceremony, calligraphy, ikebana (flower arranging), gardening, architecture, painting, and sculpture. Their performing arts are distinguished by their mix of music, dance, and drama, rooted in different eras of the past.

Japan is home to over a dozen UNESCO World Heritage sites. Historic monuments like Kyoto and Nara (designated in 1993 and 1998 respectively) reflect the country's rich tradition. Meanwhile, the Atomic Bomb Dome at Hiroshima and the silver-mining area in Honshu are part of recent history.

Though several sports are played in Japan, its traditional sport is sumo (its origins date back to the 8th Century). Six major professional tournaments are held annually and they are avidly followed throughout the country.


Japan is one of the world's most successful democracies and largest economies. Its constitution was formed in 1946 and came into force in 1947, which superseded the 1889 Meiji Constitution. Interestingly, Article 9 of the constitution states that Japan has renounced war forever as a sovereign right of the nation. This clause had been under much debate.

Though the country still has an emperor, he is only the symbol of the state and of the unity of the people. His major role includes appointing the Prime Minister (who is first designated by the Diet, the national legislature) and appointing the chief justice of the Supreme Court.

In 2019, the father of current emperor Naruhito, Emperor Akihito, became the country's first monarch to step down from the Chrysanthemum Throne in two centuries.

Picture Credit : Google 

Indonesia: the nation of 17,500 islands

The world's largest island complex, which has been inhabited for about 1.7 million years, is now home to more than 300 different ethnic groups

Ranu Joardar

Indonesia is an archipelago comprising the Greater Sunda Islands of Sumatra (Sumatera), Java (Jawa), the southern extent of Borneo (Kalimantan), and Celebes (Sulawesi); the Lesser Sunda Islands (Nusa Tenggara) of Bali and a chain of islands that runs eastward through Timor, the Moluccas (Maluku) between Celebes and the island of New Guinea; and the western extent of New Guinea (generally known as Papua).

Indonesia is the largest and most populous country in Southeast Asia. The country is one of the founding members of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), which aims to accelerate economic growth, social progress, and cultural development and promote peace and security in Southeast Asia.


Formerly known as the Dutch East Indies or the Netherlands East Indies, the name ‘Indonesia’ was used as early as 1884 by a German geographer. It is believed that the name has derived from the Greek word 'indos', meaning 'India', and 'nesos', meaning 'island'.

While records of foreign trade begin only in the early centuries, it is widely believed that people from the Indonesian archipelago were sailing to other parts of Asia much earlier. According to Roman historian Pliny the Elder's encyclopaedic scientific work Natural History, the Indonesians used to trade with the east coast of Africa in the 1st Century AD.

The Indonesian written and oral sources suggest that the origins of kingdoms along the coasts of the Java Sea were related to the success of local heroes in using foreign trading treasure to their advantage.


Indonesia comprises about 17,500 islands, of which more than 7,000 are uninhabited. The Equator crosses Sumatra at its centre.

The remains of Homo erectus (originally known as Pithecanthropus or Java man) have revealed that the Java island was already inhabited about 1.7 million years ago, the time when most of the western archipelago was linked by land bridges. These bridges submerged about 6,000 years ago due to rapid postglacial rise in sea level.

Most of the Indonesian islands are densely forested volcanic mountains in the interior that slope down to coastal plains covered with thick alluvial swamps. These swamps dissolve into shallow seas and coral reefs. Underneath this surface is the junction of three major sections of the Earth's crust.

Flora and fauna

The vegetation in Indonesia is similar to that of the Philippines, Malaysia, and Papua New Guinea. It is home to about 40,000 species of flowering plants, including 5,000 species of orchids and Rafflesiaceae (the world's largest flower).

There are over 3,000 tree species such as durian, sandalwood, and costly timber varieties such as teak and ironwood.

Here, mangrove forests can be seen in salty or brackish water along muddy shores. Most mangrove swamps are along the shallow seas in eastern Sumatra, southern Kalimantan, and the southeastern segment of western New Guinea.

Some of the islands of the archipelago are home to endemic species such as the Javanese peacock, Sumatran drongo, proboscis monkey in Kalimantan, and babirusa and tamarau in Celebes.

Most of the Javanese rhinoceroses can only be found on the western tip of Java. This species is one of the world's most highly protected forms of wildlife. Another such endangered species is the orangutan. They are native to Borneo and Sumatra. To save the population from capture and slaughter, several orangutan rehabilitation centres and programmes have been established. These organisations also train orangutans who have been held captive to return to the wild.


Indonesia has been the middle point of two population groups - Asians in the west and Melanesians (indigenous peoples of Pacific Islands known as Melanesia) in the east.

Though the majority of the population is related to those from eastern Asia, there has been an influx of and mixing with Arabs, Indians, and Europeans in past centuries.

The eastern islands are dominated by people of Melanesian origin.

The country has more than 300 different ethnic groups, resulting in twice as many distinct languages and most of the major world religions.

Meanwhile, Bali, whose local religious practices are influenced by both Hinduism and Buddhism, has customs that are different from that of other parts of Indonesia.

About half of the country's population lives in rural areas. Java, Madura, and Bali have a systemised rural structure that is based most on wet-rice cultivation (cultivating rice by planting on dry land then transferring the seedlings to a flooded field, and draining the field before harvesting).

Indonesia's five largest cities are Jakarta, Surabaya, Bandung, Bekasi, and Medan. They are considered metropolitan areas as they have the most number of government, financial, and business offices.


After the Japanese invasion (1942-45) during World War II, statesman Sukarno declared Indonesia's independence in 1945 (though the Netherlands retained a large portion of the region).

However, the struggle for independence continued till 1949 when the Dutch officially recognised Indonesian Sovereignty. Sukarno became the country's first President in 1949.

Till 2002, both the President and the Prime Minister were elected for a period of five years by the People's Consultative Assembly. Since 2004, both leaders are being directly elected.

On August 8, 1967, five leaders - the Foreign Ministers of Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand- established the ASEAN.

Picture Credit : Google 

Which is the world's shortest flight?

You might have heard about the longest flight. But what about the shortest flight? It could very well take you longer to read this story than to complete a ride on the world's shortest passenger flight.

Scottish regional airline - Loganair flight LM711 - holds the title of being the world's shortest regular commercial flight connecting two of the Orkney Islands of Scotland. Covering a distance of 1.7 miles in less than two minutes, it is a regular commercial flight connecting two of the Orkney Islands of Scotland.

 According to Guinness World Records, the little aircraft covers a total distance of 1.7 miles, which is almost the same length as the runway at Edinburgh Airport, in about 90 seconds. However, it can take less than 53 seconds on a good day. It is flown by a single pilot and has seating for eight passengers. There are no in-flight facilities so if you need the toilet you have to control the urge.

The flight has been operating since 1967. In 2016, it honoured its millionth flier - Anne Randall, a Royal Bank of Scotland banker.

Every day, the flight makes two to three trips from Westray, an island on the edge of the Orkney archipelago, to a smaller remote island of Papa Westray.

The two-minute flight is the lifeline for residents of the four-square-mile island. Besides, it is also popular with travellers as every year during summer tourists throng the island to discover Papa Westray and experience the plane ride.

For the two-minute ride, you need to reach Kirkwall, the capital of Orkney, and take about a quarter-hour-long flight to Westray. The cost of a one-way ticket is around $22. The alternative to the shortest flight is a rocky boat ride that can take around 20 minutes. There are no in-flight facilities in this 90-second flight for eight passengers flown by a single pilot.

Picture Credit : Google 


The Great Sphinx at Giza is the world's largest monolithic statue. 

Egypt, the land of pharaohs and pyramids never fails to amaze its visitors with its rich culture, mysteries and monolithic pieces from the medieval times. One such mighty monument that has hundreds and thousands of spectators completely in awe is the Great Sphinx Of Giza, an imposing statue body of a lion and head of a human. Carved out of a single block of the surrounding limestone bedrock, this colossal Egyptian antiquity is claimed to be the oldest and the largest known sculpture in the world.

The prime reason to why the Sphinx was constructed is still unknown, but some historian buff and archaeological experts believe that the statues were sculpted to guard important areas. Likewise, the Great Sphinx Of Giza was constructed to guard the large three pyramids of Giza i.e., pyramids of Khufu (Cheops), Khafre (Chephren) and Menkaura (Mycerinus).

Archaeological also believe that this gigantic sphinx was once colorful with the face painted red and the body painted with blue and yellow color. They also claim that the Sphinx once has a long beard and a nose, which are now missing.

Built-in 2500 BC during the Fourth Dynasty of the Old Kingdom, the Great Sphinx Of Giza in Egypt sits on the Giza plateau right in front of the Great Pyramid of Giza. Facing east, this stunning monument shimmers with the rising sun each morning and the Great Sphinx of Giza height is 73 meters long and 20.21 meters. The Sphinx was submerged beneath the desert and the first documented attempt to clear the sand was undertaken in 1400 BCE with the pharaoh Tuthmosis IV.

After a series of the restoration process, the giant structure once again found itself buried under the sand up to its neck when Napoleon came to Egypt in 1798. Later, there were many excavation projects conducted to clear the sand from 1816 to 1858 by some of the well-known antiquarians including Giovanni Caviglia, Auguste Mariette, and Gaston Maspero, but were forced to abandon the process due the sand.

Picture Credit : Google 


Pheasant Island changes countries every six months! An uninhabited river island in the Bidasoa River between France and Spain, Pheasant Island's administration alternates between both countries every six months. The island is also the smallest and oldest-surviving condominium. A condominium is a territory over which multiple nations exercise equal dominion and sovereignty, without dividing it into different national zones.

Pheasant Island is around 660 feet long and 130 feet wide. Despite its name, it doesn’t house any pheasants or human civilization for that matter. The only permanent resident of Pheasant Island is a historic monument to commemorate the Treaty of the Pyrenees. France and Spain signed a peace treaty on this island called the Treaty of the Pyrenees. A series of 24 conferences were held between Cardinal Mazarin, Chief Minister of France and Luis de Haro, a Grandee of Spain, in 1659 after the end of the Thirty Years’ War. The climax of the conferences led to the signing of the Treaty of the Pyrenees in Pheasant Island. Under the terms of the treaty, Pheasant Island is a possession of Spain from February 1 to July 31 each year. From August 1 till January 31, it becomes part of the nation of France. Thus, Pheasant Island has a unique bi-national dependency.

Spain and France have joint sovereignty of Pheasant Island. This arrangement is called a condominium. Faisans Island or Pheasant Island is one of the oldest condominiums in existence. A condominium is a territory over which multiple countries exercise equal sovereignty and dominion over without dividing it into different national zones. This is the world’s only destination where sovereignty is not shared simultaneously, but alternately. For six months in a year, Pheasant Island is Spanish and for the next six, it’s French. It took the Spanish and French three long months of negotiation on the neutral territory of Pheasant Island, to come to this arrangement.  The peace agreement, the Treaty of the Pyrenees was signed. And the borders were clearly demarcated and the territory was exchanged. To seal the deal, a royal wedding took place on the island, between the French King Louis XIV and the daughter of the Spanish King Philip IV.

Picture Credit : Google 

Where are most meteorites found?

Researchers from Delft University of Technology in The Netherlands have used artificial intelligence to create a treasure map of zones in which to find meteorites hidden in Antarctic ice.

Sixty-two per cent of all meteorites recovered on Earth were found in Antarctica, making this cold continent a hotbed for space research. These meteorites provide a unique view into the origin and evolution of the solar system.

Meteorites have been accumulating in Antarctica for millennia, falling from space and becoming embedded in ice sheets within the continent's interior. As the glaciers slowly flow, the meteorites are carried with them. If a glacier comes up against a large obstacle, in areas like the Transantarctic Mountains, the ice rises and meteorites are brought to the surface. Dry Antarctic winds gradually erode the ice, exposing the meteorites. As more ice rises to the surface, the process repeats. Given enough time, a significant accumulation of meteorites builds up.

Researchers say that satellite observations of temperature, ice flow rate, surface cover and geometry are good predictors of the location of meteorite rich areas, and expect the "treasure map' to be 80 per cent accurate. Based on the study, scientists calculate that as many as 300,000 meteorites are out there on the Antarctic landscape.

Picture Credit : Google 

Which is world's longest trail?

At 24,000 km long, the Great Trail in Canada is the world's longest recreational trail network of roadways, greenways and waterways. It has individual sections for walking, cycling, paddling. horseback riding and cross-country skiing.

Twenty-five years ago, Great Trail founders Pierre Camu, Bill Pratt and Paul LaBarge came up with the idea of linking Canada’s various trail networks into one mega-trail to celebrate the nation’s 125th birthday. Since then, tens of millions of dollars have been spent on trail building, signage and negotiations with landowners and local governments. Four hundred and seventy-seven groups helped to create the trail’s 432 sections, which pass through 15,000 communities.

In September of 2016, the trail was only 85 to 90 percent connected,  Over the last year, however, organizers made a monumental push to work with counties and municipalities to negotiate interim solutions for the missing bits of trail.  Not everyone is impressed by the Great Trail, former known as the Trans-Canada Trail, however, according to Jason Markusoff at MacLean’s. Reportedly, the route falls significantly short of its original goal of being an off-road trail, with only around 4,900 miles of the route, or 32 percent, composed of off-road trails. About 5,340 miles of the trail are along roads or the shoulders of highways, while 3,770 miles are water trails and 1,110 miles share the trail with ATVs.

Picture Credit : Google 

Was the Eiffel Tower once painted yellow?

The Eiffel Tower, first opened to the public on 6 May 1889, is actually painted in three different shades of colour (Eiffel Tower Brown); the darkest shade begins at the base, lightening progressively upto the top, to show off the Tower to maximum advantage against the Parisian skies. The tower is covered with 60 tons of paint every seven years to protect against corrosion.

Its color has varied over the years, from reddish-brown (1889) to ochre-brown (1892), a variation of 5 shades of yellow over its total height (1899), yellow-brown (1907 to 1947), reddish-brown (1954-1961) and since 1968, an “Eiffel Tower brown” of three different tones.

It’s thought that Eiffel chose the colour because he wanted the 324-metre-high tower to reflect the yellowish limestone architecture of the city around it. (But of course, the nod to Olympic gold medals is a nice touch too.)

The work, which began in 2019, is expected to cost a whopping €50 million ($60 million or £44 million) overall. The paint job will be complete by 2022 – well in time for the 2024 Games – and an extensive renovation of the park just to the south is set to follow.

The tower will serve as the backdrop for the triathlon and open-water swimming events in the Seine. The surrounding quais are also expected to play host to a series of shows, concerts and other entertainment.

Credit: Time Out 

Picture Credit : Google 

Why Kodinhi village is called twin village?

Kodinhi in Kerala is known as India's Town of Twins. Located in Malappuram district, in a population of nearly 20,000 the presence of more than 450 pairs of twins of different ages still remains a riddle for the scientific world. It has the highest rate of twins in the country, although India has one of the lowest twinning rates in the world. The first association of twins in India, The Twins and Kins Association, was founded here. Like many other villages in Kerala, it is lined with coconut palms, crisscrossed with canals and dotted with rice fields. But, when you go deeper into its narrow streets, you come across a large number of identical faces. You will see many lookalike children, in the school and in the nearby market in this village. The oldest twin living in this village is Abdul Hameed and his twin sister Kunhi Kadia.

Initially, only a few twins were born in the years, but later it accelerated and now twins are being born at a very high speed. In 2008, there were 30 twins out of the 300 children born in good health in the village. But in a few years; their number has reached 60. It is not that the twins born here or their mothers have any physical defects or mental deformities, nothing like that. Women also remain healthy and do not suffer from any kind of deformity. The locals believe that this village has God's special grace which gives birth to more and more twins. 

Credit : India Times

Picture Credit : Google 

Where is world’s largest bee Wallace's giant rediscovered?

The world's largest bee - roughly the size of a human thumb - has been rediscovered in Indonesia. Wallace's Giant Bee, discovered in the 19th century by British naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace and nicknamed the "flying bulldog", had not been seen in the wild since 1981.

 The bee (Megachile pluto), which lives in the island region of North Moluccas, makes its nest in termite mounds, using its large fang-like mandibles to collect sticky resin to protect its home from the termites. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species lists the bee as "vulnerable". Currently, there is no protection for the bee's habitat which is threatened by increasing deforestation for agricultural purposes.

Picture Credit : Google 

What is special about Angel Oak tree?

An angel oak tree in South Carolina provides shade across an area of 17,000 square feet! This feat is possible thanks to its immense height of 65 feet and 28 feet circumference. The tree is nearly 500 years old and had all the time in the world to grow both upwards and outwards. The Angel Oak estimated to be more than 400-500 years old.  Angels Oak has survived rough weather including earthquakes, hurricanes, floods as well as human interference. It’s therefore accurate to assume that the tree will live for a whole lot more centuries.

The land was also used as part of a marriage settlement between Martha W.T. Angel and Justus Angel. Today, Angel Oak serves as the focal point of a public park in South Carolina. In the modern day, Angel oak is owned by the City of Charleston and it costs nothing to marvel at the tree in John’s Island.

Credit : Crafted Charleston Tours

Picture Credit : Google 

What is special about Boojum Tree?

Boojum trees are named after a mythical thing found in the work, The Hunting of the Snark, by Lewis Carroll. Their fantastic form resembles an upside-down carrot and groups of them create quite an astounding display as the vertical trunks snake up from the earth. It can grow to a height of about 20 metres. The small leaves that grow on it fall early, and the task of photosynthesis is left to the stem. If you want one in your own garden, you need to have deep pockets. Apparently, the tree is sold at the rate of $1000 per foot! The boojum tree is one of the strangest plants imaginable. For most of the year it is leafless and looks like a giant upturned turnip.

 Its common name was coined by the plant explorer Godfrey Sykes, who found it in 1922 and said "It must be a boojum!".

The swollen trunk base is often hollow and provides a habitat for bees; the wood is somewhat spongy and retains water. The boojum tree is sometimes planted in southern California and Arizona as a landscape curiosity; small plants can be grown indoors.

Credit : Google 

Picture Credit : Google 

Is there a tree with rainbow bark?

A eucalyptus tree species in the Philippines has a fantastic, psychedelic rainbow bark. How did this even happen? Patches of bark peeled out at different stages. The green exposed bark matures and develops different colours. You'd expect that it'd be grown for its beauty, but since paper is more important, they're grown for wood pulp.

The colorful striations are created due to the fact that the tree doesn't shed all at once. Slowly, over time, different layers fall off, while other exposed areas have already begun aging. This process makes for a spectacular visual, with the rainbow eucalyptus looking like it could be pulled from Alice in Wonderland. Botanists have identified around 900 species of eucalypts divided into three different groups: Eucalyptus, which make up the bulk of the species; Corymbia, the bloodwood eucalypts mainly found in the north; and Angophora.

Picture Credit : Google 

What is special about dragon's blood tree?

 It is a unique tree that is one of the most peculiar trees in the world . The Dragon's Blood Tree got its name from its bright red sap, made up of a cocktail of chemicals. This sap was used as a colourant in the mummification process, and today, even as a natural remedy for gastrointestinal troubles. The tree has an interesting back story. About 500 years ago, there was a flightless bird species that ate the fruits of this tree. It helped disperse the seeds and kept the population of the tree stable. After the bird went extinct, the tree also went into decline.

. The tree has a distinctive external shape that makes it look like a huge umbrella, as the leaves grow only at the end of branches and point upwards. It has many branches; it grows by dichotomy, which means that each branch is divided into two until the leaves finally grow on the branches' ends. It produces a lot of green leaves that are renewed every three or four years; they fall and other leaves grow in their place.

What makes this tree stand out among other trees in the world is that it bleeds when it is truncated; the bloody liquid is a type of red resin that has no smell or taste. This resin is of great importance, as it contains an effective substance known as draco, which has multiple medical uses and is part of the pharmaceutical industry to treat some health problems.

Credit : Sci planet

Picture Credit : Google 

Where is Serengeti located?

Serengeti National Park, national park and wildlife refuge on the Serengeti Plain in north-central Tanzania. It is partly adjacent to the Kenya border and is northwest of the adjoining Ngorongoro Conservation Area. It is best known for its huge herds of plains animals (especially gnu [wildebeests], gazelles, and zebras), and it is the only place in Africa where vast land-animal migrations still take place. The park, an international tourist attraction, was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1981.

The park was established in 1951 and covers 5,700 square miles (14,763 square km) of some of the best grassland range in Africa, as well as extensive acacia woodland savanna. With elevations ranging from 3,020 to 6,070 feet (920 to 1,850 metres), the park extends 100 miles (160 km) southeast from points near the shores of Lake Victoria and, in its eastern portion, 100 miles (160 km) south from the Kenya-Tanzania border. It is along the “western corridor” to Lake Victoria that many of the park’s animals migrate. Within the area are nearly 1,300,000 gnu, 60,000 zebras, 150,000 gazelles, and numerous other animals. During the wet season, from November to May, the herds graze in the southeastern plains within the park. In late May or June one major group moves west into the park’s woodland savanna and then north into the grasslands just beyond the Kenya-Tanzania border, an area known as the Mara (Masai Mara National Reserve). Another group migrates directly northward. The herds return to the park’s southeastern plains in November, at the end of the dry season.

In addition to more than 35 species of plains animals, there are some 3,000 lions and great numbers of spotted hyenas, leopards, rhinoceroses, hippopotamuses, giraffes, cheetahs, and baboons. Crocodiles inhabit the marshes near the Mara River. More than 350 species of birds, including ostriches, vultures, and flamingos, have also been recorded. Elephants, which were not found in the Serengeti 30 years ago, moved into the park as human populations and agricultural developments increased outside its borders; the local elephant population is estimated at some 1,360. The last of the Serengeti’s wild dogs disappeared in 1991, but there are some 30,000 domestic dogs in the area; it is possible that unvaccinated domestic dogs spread rabies to the wild dogs, resulting in their local extinction. An epidemic of canine distemper caused the deaths of nearly one-third of the area’s lions in 1994. The killing of elephants for their ivory tusks, the slaughter of the now virtually extinct black rhinoceros for its horn, and the poaching of game animals for meat—an estimated 200,000 a year—are major threats.

The first systematic wildlife population survey in the area was undertaken by the German zoologist Bernhard Grzimek in the late 1950s. The park’s headquarters are near its centre, at Seronera, where the Seronera Wildlife Research Centre (established as the Serengeti Research Institute, 1962) is also based.

Credit : Britannica 

Picture Credit : Google