Gift of the Rains: Rufiji – The Perennial River (2001)
The Rufiji River flows through Tanzania in East Africa, through the vast Selous Game Reserve – the largest reserve in the whole of Africa. It is home to a variety of creatures such as the unique Selous wildebeest, and is a precious haven for endangered animals such as elephants and wild dogs.
The river flows all year round, always faithfully providing an ample supply of water. However, food is scarce for the herbivores during the long dry season, and hippos are forced to leave the water for long periods to graze enough of the sparse vegetation on the banks.
The animals that depend on the generous river for their food, such as water mongooses, waterbirds and crocodiles, are much less affected by the drought. The predators are also very well fed, and winter is the wild dogs’ peak breeding season, when hunting is easiest.
There are two rainy seasons in Tanzania. The first to arrive are the short rains, which only last for a few weeks and do not bring much relief to the vegetation, as most of the water runs off without penetrating the soil properly. The long rains finally come three months later. The Rufiji fills and the valley flourishes and blooms once more.