The skies remained clear for days on end. The harsh sun dries out the terrain, turning it a dusty red and making the withered grass as brittle as straw. The Tarangire River has shrunk to a mere shadow of what it was during the rainy season. But animals has overrun it. With the knowledge that there is always water here, thirsty nomads have walked hundreds of dry kilometers.
At the same time that migratory wildebeest, zebra, buffalo, impala, gazelle, hartebeest, and eland overcrowd the dwindling lagoons, herds of up to 300 elephants search the dry river bank for hidden streams. It is the only location in Tanzania where dry-country antelope like the stately fringe-eared oryx and unique long-necked gerenuk are commonly sighted. It also has the highest concentration of species outside the Serengeti environment, making it a buffet for predators.
The seasonal residents disperse over an area of 20,000 sq km (12,500 sq miles) throughout the rainy season until they have seen all that the lush plains have to offer and the river calls once more. Elephant herds in Tarangire, though, are simple to come across, rain or shine. The 550 different bird species that live in the marshes, which are always green, are the most breeding species in one habitat anywhere in the world.
The Kori bustard, the heaviest flying bird in the world, the stocking-thighed ostrich, and tiny groups of croaking ground hornbills can all be found on dry terrain. The shrieking flocks of the brilliantly colored yellow-collared lovebird, the somewhat duller rufous-tailed weaver, and the ashy starling, which are all indigenous to the arid savannah of north-central Tanzania, might catch the attention of more dedicated bird watchers. Dwarf mongoose colonies and pairs of red-and-yellow barbets, which attract attention with their loud, clockwork-like duetting, frequently frequent abandoned termite mounds. The pythons of Tarangire climb trees, just like the lions and leopards that live there, and lounge in the branches where the sausage tree’s fruit hides their tail twitches.