Ruaha National Park is the largest national park in Tanzania. The addition of the Usangu Game Reserve and other important wetlands to the park in 2008 increased its size to about 20,226 square kilometers (7,809 sq mi), making it the largest park in Tanzania and East Africa.
The park is about 130 kilometers (81 mi) west of Iringa. The park is a part of the 45,000 square kilometres (17,000 sq mi) Rungwa-Kizigo-Muhesi ecosystem, which includes the Rungwa Game Reserve, the Kizigo and Muhesi Game Reserves, and the Mbomipa Wildlife Management Area.
The name of the park is derived from the Great Ruaha River, which flows along its southeastern margin and is the focus for game-viewing.
The park can be reached by car on a dirt road from Iringa and there are two airstrips – Msembe airstrip at Msembe (park headquarters), and Jongomeru Airstrip, near the Jongomeru Ranger Post.
History and wildlife
Germany gazetted the Saba Game Reserve in 1910. British colonial authorities changed the name to the Rungwa Game Reserve in 1946. In 1964, the southern portion of the reserve was excised and elevated to full park status.
More than 571 species of birds have been identified in the park. Among the resident species are hornbills. Many migratory birds visit the park.
Other noted animals found in this park are East African cheetah and lion, African leopard and wild dog, spotted hyena, giraffe, hippopotamus, African buffalo, and sable antelope.
The park was formerly known for its large elephant population. It had numbered 34,000 in the Ruaha-Rungwa ecosystem in 2009, before declining to only 15,836, plus or minus 4,759, in 2015.
In February 2018, the carcasses of 6 lions and 74 vultures were found. They appear to have been poisoned.
There is a wide selection of accommodation in or near the park. The only lodge inside the park is the Ruaha River Lodge. There are also permanent or seasonal tented camps inside the park.
There are also several park-operated public and special campsites, a hostel, self-catering bandas, and cottages. Just outside the park boundaries are several accommodation facilities.