The unique ecosystem that developed as a result of the volcanic eruption of what is now the Ngorongoro Crater spewed volcanic ash over the Serengeti Plain. With high concentrations of phosphorous, it created fertile soils that grow short grasses and other plants the herbivore wildlife thrives on throughout the northwestern Tanzania region. This includes the 2.5 million wildebeest that participate in the Great Migration, zebras, a wide variety of antelopes, giraffes, hippos and many other species of mammals. These big herbivore mammals attract big cats such as cheetahs, lions, leopards and other predatory carnivores.
In addition to the Big Five (rhino, elephant, Cape buffalo, lions and leopards) that are fascinating to watch are baboons, chimpanzees, blue monkeys, vervet’s and other primates. The Serengeti ecosystem includes over 500 species of birds. Other conditions that contribute to the Serengeti’s diversity is the result of the Rift Valley’s heat that evaporates its lakes creating high concentrations of mineral deposits. This causes their waters to become saline (salt) water soda lakes. This includes Lake Manyara, Lake Natron, Lake Momella and Lake Magadi. In these waters, a specific variety of algae grow that huge populations of flamingos thrive on that migrate between the soda lakes.