(Nov. 17, 2006, New York, NY) Visitors to the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania have long known that this exquisite landscape, home to freely roaming wildebeest, zebras, elephants, lions, cheetahs and giraffes, is a natural wonder of unparalleled splendor. Now this assessment has been made official. In a joint project undertaken by USA TODAY and ABC-TV's Good Morning America, a multi-disciplined panel has named the "Site of the Great Migration," which includes Tanzania's Serengeti National Park as the Seventh New Wonder of the World.
The announcement broke simultaneously on Good Morning America, with over 13 million viewers, and in the pages of USA TODAY, which has a daily readership of over 2,000,000.
Author Bruce Feiler (Walking in the Bible), one of the panelists who selected the Seven New Wonders, notes in USA TODAY that "the Serengeti is not only a natural wonder that takes your breath away, but it symbolizes years of human endeavor to conserve the natural world." He continues: "it transplants you to a time when humans were secondary on earth."
The annual Great Migration of one million wildebeest and 200,000 zebras is one of the most fascinating aspects of life on the Serengeti. Gerald Bigurube, Director General, Tanzania National Parks, notes that "the animals spend most of their time in the Serengeti, 8-9 months a year, because of the availability of ample food resources. It is also in the Serengeti that they ensure their species' survival by calving and nurturing their young." The Great Migration begins from the northern hills to the southern plains every October and November, then moves west and north after the long rains in April, May and June.
Tour Operators often prefer taking their clients to Tanzania for the best Great Migration experience. Judi Wineland, President, Boston-based Thomson Safaris, said, “At least 85 % of the 700 mile path of the Great Migration takes place in Serengeti National Park, giving our guests the optimum opportunity to witness this truly spectacular scene. It is no surprise that this was selected as the new 7th Wonder of the World."
"Tanzania is thrilled and proud of the Serengeti's inclusion in the New Seven Wonders list," comments Hon. Prof. Jumanne A. Maghembe, MP,. "Wildlife Conservation has always been a top priority of the Tanzanian Government "“with over 25% of the land protected by law. Now, with this new honor, comes the added responsibility of our government to ensure that this New Natural Wonder will be protected for generations to come. And we humbly accept this responsibility."
Peter Mwenguo, Managing Director, Tanzania Tourist Board, adds that Tanzania has taken careful measure to protect the country from becoming a mass tourism destination, opting to protect the land and the animals. "Our low volume/high yield policy has kept crowds from the parks and has also protected the quality of the visitors' vacation experience," said Mwenguo.
The Serengeti, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, was first discovered in 1913, when explorers told the world they had "found paradise.” Since then, the majestic land of wooded hills, rivers lined with fig trees, vast tracks of endless green flecked with wild flowers, black clay plains and volcanic craters, paired with unparalleled game viewing, does symbolize paradise for countless awed travelers. Two World Heritage Sites and two Biosphere Reserves have been established within the vast region. Its unique ecosystem has inspired writers from Ernest Hemingway to Peter Mattheissen, film makers like Hugo von Lawick and Alan Root as well as numerous photographers and scientists.
Tanzania, the largest country in East Africa, is also the home of other world famous attractions such as Mt. Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa; the Selous, the world's largest game reserve; the Ngorongoro Crater, often called the Eight Wonder of the World after the ancient Seven Wonders; Olduval Gorge (cradle of mankind) and the exotic spice islands of Zanzibar. Tanzania has 30 Game Reserves and 14 National Parks, including the Serengeti and Saadani, a unique marine/bush park along the Indian Ocean Coast.