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The Ngorongoro crater img

The Ngorongoro Crater lies within the Ngorongoro Conservation Area in the northern part of Tanzania. It is on the Eastern Great Rift Valley arm in Ngorongoro District of Arusha Region. It is believed to have been named by the Maasai pastoralists after the sound ‘ngoro ngoro’ produced by the cowbell.

Formed when a large volcano erupted and collapsed on itself, approximately 2-3 million years ago, the Ngorongoro Crater is the world’s largest inactive, intact and unfilled volcanic caldera. An active volcano’s cone collapsed inward after a massive eruption.

Caldera is a Spanish word for cauldron. A caldera is a bowl-shaped volcanic cavity that is usually measures more than a kilometre or 0.6 miles in diameter, with an outer edge of steep slopes. It is simply a large depression created when a volcano erupts and collapses because it is no longer supported by an underlying body of magma.

When a volcano erupts, the magma in the magma chamber beneath the volcano is ejected, often forcefully. There is a void when the magma chamber is empty as the support that the magma provided inside the chamber is no more. Consequently, the sides and top of the volcano collapse inward.

The crater is not only a spell bounding natural wonder, but it also a sanctuary for wildlife and a paradise, boasting of a variety of flora.

Wildlife In the Ngorongoro Crater

The mostly flat fertile floor of the caldera produces pastures supporting a number of grazers. Its steep edges form a natural enclosure. This makes the Ngorongoro Crater to be among sanctuaries boasting of high densities of wildlife.

However, it is interesting to note that although the crater has an abundance of wildlife, including the Big Five and plenty species of grazers, no giraffe or impala lives there. The absence of giraffes and impala in the Ngorongoro Crater is attributed to lack of open woodlands and certain tree species preferred by these animals.

The Ngorongoro Crater is also famed for being home to Africa’s densest populations of predators. The fertile caldera floor favours the growth of short, lush grass. This attracts a variety of herbivores, which in turn attract a remarkable number of predators. The resident lion population in the Crater is one of the highest globally, making it a popular safari destination. This has resulted in lions being a little less discrete and will even hunt in the proximity of safari vehicles.

Ngorongoro Crater: Quick Number Facts

Crater’s depth: 610m (2,000ft) deep

Crater’s floor area: 260 sq km (100 sq mil)

Crater’s ASL elevation: 1,800m (5,900ft) ASL

Estimates of the original volcano’s height ranges between 4,500-5,800m (14,800-19,000ft).

Estimate of the period when the volcano was active is 2.45-2 million years ago.

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