How did animals get into the Ngorongoro crater?

Ngorongoro Crater rim

Ngorongoro crater a worldu2019s largest unbroken volcanic caldera of 2000 meters of depth.

It covers an area of 260 square kilometers and roughly 20km in diameter.

,Some 25,000 large animals make the crater their home.

All of the Big Five ( lion, leopard, elephant, Cape Buffalo and rhino.

) inhabit the Ngorongoro crater plains.

,So how do animals get into the crater? Much like how homo sapiens get in to view the animals: by accessing trails/roads that descend into the crater:,There are several entry gates to the crater.

The possibilities are indicated in the map below:,Lodoare gate is the southernmost gate used by tourists to access the Ngorongoro conservation area.

This gate is one of the most popular and most used gates of the conservation area since it is the closet gate to Arusha the main city where tours begin,But of course certain parts of the crater rim are not that accessible even to animals.

See pic below:,It is estimated that some 30,000 wild mammals occupy an extinct volcanic caldera.

One animal species that you will not see in the crater is the giraffe.

Apparently giraffes avoid the steep trails that they would need to navigate from the crater rim to the crater floor- I guess the chance of breaking a limb is viewed by giraffes as not worth the risk, no matter how attractive the food supply is.

,This image captures the verdant valley floor of the crater:,Here is a pic I took of the Ngorongoro valley floor from the crater rim one morning during a visit to Tanzania

Ngorongoro Crater size

A full grown experienced male lion maybe could not only escape, but also stand its ground against 20 hyenas.

All it takes is a single blow from its paws to kill one hyena [3][4][5][6] and once the first one or two are dead, the rest of the group would retreat.

,But maybe 20 could be the maximum limit, a real stretch.

Also, it is important to say that hyena packs can be composed of up to four times that number and they would certainly call for help, inverting the situation in some cases.

,Also, 20 hyenas can be a real challenge for an young and inexperienced male lion, like in the video below, with these exact numbers.

But in nature, lions are also hardly found aloneu2026,ADDITIONAL NOTE:There have been some questions in the comments stating that a full grown male lions cannot scare off 20 hyenas [2] or it is impossible for then to kill in one single strike [1].

Fair questions, so I will add here comments from experts that have being observing hyenas, and their interactions with lions, in wild for their entire lives:,When hyenas compete over a kill with adult male lions, the lions will always dominate or take over the kill, no matter how many hyenas are recruited.

The hyenas may nevertheless harass feeding lion males to make them abandon the kill or distract them by taking scraps of meat and bones.

In most cases though, the hyenas will simply lie down in the vicinity and patiently wait for the lions to become too hot or full and leave the carcass.

,Lions are the main cause of death for hyenas in the Ngorongoro Crater.

Male lions are twice the size of a spotted hyena and three to four times as heavy, and one single paw stroke can kill an adult hyena.

[1],It seems some are apparently mixing up between male by female lions, the last ones much smaller.

,SOURCE:[1] https://hyena-project.

com/research-topics/conflict-with-lions/[2] Massive lion fends off more than 20 hyenas during attack, wild video shows[3] One of the hyenas, engrossed in the feast and slower to retreat than his fellows, was killed by a single blow from a lions paw[4] https://hyena-project.

com/research-topics/conflict-with-lions/[5] Paw strike comprison[6] The african lions striking strengthEdit: added the sources for u201cit takes is a single blow from its paws to kill one hyenau201d

Ngorongoro Crater Wikipedia

Orcas.

,No, lions donu2019t eat orcasu2026 but to get the answer, we will first go to orcas, then to science fiction, then finally to lions; which of course is the most logical path to answer this question.

,So, yeahu2026 orcas.

You remember seeing that video where those killer whales all line up, and then speed toward the ice floe, sending a big wave onto it, to knock off the seal thatu2019s freakinu2019 out, sitting on top? [1],Well, those orcas are a specific group of whales (sub-order Odontoceti or u201ctoothed whalesu201d), a specific sub-species of whales, and they live in a specific place.

What they are doing is called u201cwave washingu201d.

Itu2019s incredibly sophisticated, and these whales teach it to each other.

But all orcas donu2019t do this, all over the world.

So, we have to be careful about saying things like u201cThis is how orcas huntu201d.

The truth isu2026 u201cThis is how these orcas huntu201d.

Different places, different circumstances, different orca groupsu2026 they hunt differently.

,Okay, so as promised, weu2019ll hop over to science fiction.

Imagine some gigantic alien species comes to Earth and kidnaps a bunch of humans from Nebraska, USA, to take back to their kids on the planet Zorg, as pets.

u201cYay! What do they eat, Daddy?u201d The dad alien pulls out a huge sack of freeze-dried human food.

A lifetime supply for the human pets.

Flash forward 20 years, and letu2019s listen to what the u201ctinyu201d humans are saying in their cage, during feeding time.

u201cAHH! Curried Chicken Korma! I canu2019t stand Curried Chicken Korma for 20 more years!u201dYou seeu2026 the alien dad got what he thought humans ate; all humans.

He had a lifetime supply of human food from a place called India.

If youu2019ve ever had human pets, you know that they donu2019t all eat the same thing.

,And now, we can move to lion.

Just like weu2019ve learned from the orcas, all lions donu2019t hunt the same way.

As we learned from the aliens, all lions donu2019t eat the same things, either.

The Earth is a big planet.

Lions are in different places, under different circumstances, in different lion groups.

,Iu2019ll tell you about some of these different places, circumstances and groupsu2026 and what and how they eat.

For instance, there is a place in Tanzania thatu2019s called the Ngorongoro Crater, the worlds largest intact and unfilled volcanic caldera, which is the crater that formed when a large volcano exploded and collapsed on itself two to three million years ago.

Itu2019s about 100 square miles.

Hereu2019s a picture of it: [2],A big circle, surrounded by the walls of the crater, all around.

This kind of isolates it from the rest of Tanzania, and itu2019s a beautiful lush habitat for many of the most famous SE African animals; including Panthera leo leo (African lion), of course.

The population of lions that lives and hunts here, has their own way of doing things.

These guys might be called the Lion Mafia, because they have a pretty slick operation going on in this crater.

Let me start by saying that all lions take advantage of their status as King of the Jungle (despite the fact they arenu2019t actually in the jungle), and they take food from whomever they want, whenever they want.

Cheetahs, usually catch the brunt of this scam.

But of course, lions do hunt on their own, as well.

Itu2019s just that when opportunity presents itselfu2026 they steal, using strong-arm tactics.

The thing isu2026 these particular Ngorongoro Crater lions take it to an extreme.

Itu2019s not the Cheetahs that suffer, though.

In this isolated neighborhood, the victims of the lion mafia areu2026 the Spotted Hyenas! These lions have no problem sending in Nick the Nose Lion and Louie Three Claws Lion to rough up the hyenas and take their fresh kill from them.

All of it.

Every time.

No excuses and no back-talking.

In fact, these lions have almost entirely quit traditional hunting, and rely almost exclusively on stealing from the hyenas! They have made it an art form.

Researchers have found that whenever the hyenau2019s u201cIu2019ve killed somethingu201d sound is reproduced, anywhere within the crater, the lions come running! They will chase the sound daily, whenever they are hungry.

The hell with hunting! Consistently robbing the hyenas is much more productive.

Spotted Hyenas and Lions have always been direct competitors, for the same food, in the same areas.

But in this crater, the lions have it figured out, but good! And nowhere else, does it happen to this same level of efficiency.

So, what do these lions really eat? Anything that the hyenas kill for them.

,Letu2019s go to another place, to some different lions.

But first letu2019s play a game.

Iu2019ll list a bunch of animals, and you try to guess which three of these are the least preyed upon by lions.

Ready? Elephants, hippopotamuses, giraffes, wildebeests, wart hogs, zebras, buffalo, crocodiles, rhinoceroses, impalas and gazelles.

Which three are least often found in a lionu2019s belly? Iu2019ll give you one hint.

This guy isnu2019t one of the three: [3],Although I will point out that lion claws have been found inside Nile Crocodile stomachs more than once.

These two eat each other on a regular basis.

Usually size is the determining factor.

,Okay, got your three? Iu2019m guessing youu2019ll be mostly wrong.

The answer is u2026 the last three.

Rhinoceroses, impalas and gazelles.

There are certain lions that will take down elephants, hippos and crocs, before any of them mess with a rhino.

I just watched a video of one rhino holding off seven very determined, hungry and organized lions.

I can tell you the lions finally walked away hungry and exhausted after a very long constant mass attack.

As far as the impalas and gazellesu2026 they are just too damn fast! Most lions have no problem leaving those to their speedy cousins, the cheetahs.

,As I saidu2026 different lions, different circumstances.

Over in Kruger National Park, giraffes are frequently hunted.

Despite the deadly miles-long legs and sharp hooves of these sky-high, very heavy animals, the lions in this part of South Africa have developed a technique amongst themselves that makes them the most frequent and efficient giraffe-hunting lions in Africa.

,If we scoot over to a different part of Tanzaniau2026 Lake Manyara National Parku2026 weu2019ll find that Cape Buffalo are by far the most common menu item for those local lions; simply because there are so many damn buffalo there! Hippo and wart hogs, round out the rest of the menu around Lake Manyara.

,On the Serengeti Plain in Kenya, itu2019s wildebeests and zebras that are preferred.

Obviously, a completely different method is required to hunt a giraffe in South Africa, than is used to hunt hippos in Tanzania.

And not all lions have mastered them all.

They specialize, and have preferences.

,Lastly, weu2019ll go over to the Savuti River in Botswanau2026 where quite an unusual situation has arisen.

These lions have developed not only a taste for, but more importantly, a technique for huntingu2026 elephants! Full grown elephants! Although this has occasionally happened everywhere there are both lions and elephants, a certain set of circumstances has led Botswanan lions to become very proficient elephant hunters.

Some years ago, there was a particularly hungry time for all predators in the area, and lions began to risk hunting baby elephants regularly.

It wasnu2019t long before they found a way to work together and bring down adults, usually at night, to take advantage of the elephantu2019s relatively poor night vision.

[4],So, thatu2019s what African Lions eat.

,Speaking of African Lionsu2026 it reminds me of the story where the mother of the kindergartener asked her son what he learned in school.

He told her u201cWe learned about a frickinu2019 elephantu201d.

The mother was shocked that he was learning pre-swear words like this in school and went to visit the teacher.

She then learned that a frickinu2019 elephant was actually African Elephant! Hahahaha!,Okay, back to African Lions.

Why do I keep saying African Lions? Wellu2026 because we havenu2019t even covered the Asiatic Lion! Yes, there is a Lion in Asia.

Panthera leo persica (Asiatic lion).

[5],Isnu2019t he gorgeous! And unlike the notoriously fake u201cBlack Lionu201d that you see on the internet, this huge luxurious black mane is not photo-shopped.

Thatu2019s the real deal.

These Asiatic Lions are only found in one small area of India.

Although African Lions number upwards of 30,000u2026 As of 2017, Gir Forest in Gujarat is reported to have 650 individual Asiatic Lions, with ~240 cubs.

Just a few years ago there were only 350 lions there.

The population continues to fluctuate due to floods, disease and other things, but stillu2026 A true success story! And you can see below that the lions have been very busy making more lions, as one of the female prides brings their latest load of cubs to drink.

[6],Congratulations to those responsible (this includes officials, local villagers who support this program and the amazing Lion Queens, the all-female team of Forrest Officers in charge of the park and lions: https://www.

youthkiawaaz.

com/2016/03/gir-national-park-lion-queens/ ) for making this sanctuary possible, which was set up specifically for the Asiatic Lions to try to recover from near complete annihilation.

,They have a thicker coat, and a longer tail tassel than their African cousins.

And they have a fascinating culture all their own.

Their prides consist of female prides, and male prides.

They remain separate except for mating, of courseu2026 which I assume happens on u201cdate night!u201d,They live in the forests and hillsides.

Their diets are different.

Their hunting style is different.

Their social structure is different.

They are quite unique, and quite endangered.

Once again, mankind has done its best to do its worst on one of our most magnificent creatures.

At least there are some dedicated Indians now doing their best to bring these big cats back from the brink.

And what I can say isu2026 u201cThank you, Indians! Their population has slightly increased!u201d Hurray! Theyu2019ve come back from a historic low-point estimate of only 20 of these lions being left, in the entire world.

,So, there you go.

What do lions reeeally eat? Wellu2026 just as a Nebraskanu2019s food isnu2019t typically Curried Chicken Kormau2026 [7],u2026 the answer isu2026 it depends where, how and who.

,The only real constant isu2026 given the motivation, and the opportunityu2026 most of them will eat you.

,The main point here is that all animals are individuals.

The groups that wild animals live in are their own families, their own societies.

Local groups from one area have local skills, knowledge and behavior that will be different from groups in other areas.

And there are many thing that simply canu2019t be applied to an entire species, no matter how much we learn about them, or think we know about them.

They are unpredictable and each individual is a different thinking being.

Just like us.

,,IMAGE CITATIONS:,[1] BBC Frozen Planet Attenboroughs frozen planet[2] By Thomas Huston 2007 Ngorongoro Conservation Area - Wikipedia[3] Caters News Agency via Irish Mirror Lions vs crocodile[4] Camerawoman Justine Evans from crew of BBC Americau2019s Planet Earth series.

,[5] Courtesy of Chester Zoo, 2009 Big Cats at Chester Zoo[6] Photo courtesy of About Gujarat.

Gujarat tourism website.

,[7] Still, from La Planu00e8te sauvage animated at Jiu0159u00ed Trnka Studio in Prague.

Ngorongoro Conservation Area map

Ngorongoro crater a worldu2019s largest unbroken volcanic caldera of 2000 meters of depth.

It covers an area of 260 square kilometers and roughly 20km in diameter.

,Some 25,000 large animals make the crater their home.

All of the Big Five ( lion, leopard, elephant, Cape Buffalo and rhino.

) inhabit the Ngorongoro crater plains.

,So how do animals get into the crater? Much like how homo sapiens get in to view the animals: by accessing trails/roads that descend into the crater:,There are several entry gates to the crater.

The possibilities are indicated in the map below:,Lodoare gate is the southernmost gate used by tourists to access the Ngorongoro conservation area.

This gate is one of the most popular and most used gates of the conservation area since it is the closet gate to Arusha the main city where tours begin,But of course certain parts of the crater rim are not that accessible even to animals.

See pic below:,It is estimated that some 30,000 wild mammals occupy an extinct volcanic caldera.

One animal species that you will not see in the crater is the giraffe.

Apparently giraffes avoid the steep trails that they would need to navigate from the crater rim to the crater floor- I guess the chance of breaking a limb is viewed by giraffes as not worth the risk, no matter how attractive the food supply is.

,This image captures the verdant valley floor of the crater:,Here is a pic I took of the Ngorongoro valley floor from the crater rim one morning during a visit to Tanzania

Ngorongoro Crater facts

Absolutely.

Who wouldnt want to enjoy this magnificent view of the crater.

,Fact: No Europeans are known to have set foot in the Ngorongoro Crater until 1892.

Ngorongoro Conservation Area History

Great question! Here are my top ten.

,Tsingy de Bemahara National Park.

Found in northwest Madagascar, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is famous for its extremely jagged landscape.

Its endless cathedral-like spires of limestone have been gouged out by rain and groundwater over millennia.

Because the spires are so inaccessible, they often contain endemic species unique to each rock formation.

,Moremi Game Reserve.

Technically not a national park (it was designated a game reserve so the native Bushmen could continue living there) but still worth mentioning.

Itu2019s part of the Okavango Delta, the worldu2019s largest inland river delta.

Its floodplains, lagoons and swamps eventually peter out and evaporate in the Kalahari desert of Botswana.

,Gorongosa National Park.

This Mozambican park might seem fairly standard at first glance, but its history is what sets it apart.

In the u201880s, during the countryu2019s decade-long civil war, it was heavily bombed and overrun by soldiers.

Large mammal populations decreased by 95%! However, thanks to tireless restoration efforts, its ecosystem is once again flourishing.

,Nairobi National Park.

This is likely the worldu2019s only national park contained entirely within a city - a city of 4.

5 million, no less.

Here you can go on a safari with a futuristic skyline as a backdrop - a huge railway bridge even runs right through the park.

It is rich in wildlife, although most of the large animals were reintroduced by humans.

,Namib-Naukluft National Park.

This positively enormous park in Namibia is famous for its endless red sands, flat clay pans and - most of all - its photogenic dead trees, which are more than 500 years old.

Cold winds blowing in from the Atlantic also create the worldu2019s tallest sand dunes, one of which is nearly 400 m tall! There are also a pair of mega-dunes called Big Daddy and Big Mama.

,Rwenzori Mountains National Park.

This Ugandan area protects Africau2019s highest mountain range, the Rwenzori Mountains.

Some are even snow-capped, and have glaciers, despite being on the equator.

To withstand the cold, many plants have grown to be outlandishly huge - giant lobelias and heathers the size of trees.

There are also a lot of endemic animals, especially birds.

,(Have a look here for a more detailed rundown),Vallu00e9e de Mai Nature Reserve.

Again, not really a national park but fascinating nonetheless.

Itu2019s in the Seychelles, which once formed an isolated continent along with Madagascar and India.

The Seychelles remains remote, so its primitive Cretaceous flora was not replaced by more advanced species.

In the Vallu00e9e, forests are dominated by palm trees, unlike anywhere else in the world.

,Ngorongoro Conservation Area.

Again Iu2019m stretching the definition of national park here, but it doesnu2019t really matter for practical purposes.

This Tanzanian preserve is nestled within a huge basalt crater, the Ngorongoro Crater, which is what makes it so unique.

This caldera is the remnant of a huge volcano which has since been eroded away into a shallow bowl.

,Lake Malawi National Park.

As the name suggests, this one is found on the southern end of Lake Malawi, the worldu2019s fifth-largest lake by volume.

It is home to more fish species than any other lake on Earth, at more than 1,000! 700 of these are from one family alone, the cichlids.

Itu2019s also really interesting because itu2019s a breeding ground for lake flies, which form immense swarms hundreds of metres tall.

,Bale Mountains National Park.

Found way up in the towering Ethiopian Highlands, this national park has a suitably alien landscape.

It contains vast moorlands dotted with huge, 6 metre tall lobelias.

Itu2019s chiefly known for being a stronghold for Ethiopian wolves, the worldu2019s rarest canine.

It also contains the earliest evidence of human settlement at high altitude, in the form of 30,000 year old artifacts.

,So, you wanted just one, and received ten.

Thatu2019s my writing style summed up in a sentence.

Anyway, hopefully you guys all enjoyed this, thank you very much for reading, and have a great day.