The Selous Game Reserve

Destination Introduction

Lions in the Selous
Three lions in the Selous

The Selous Game Reserve is located in South West Tanzania. It is the largest protected wilderness reserve in Africa – three times the size of the Serengeti. The Selous is named after the famous 19th century explorer and hunter, Frederick Selous. It has been declared a World Heritage Site. The Reserve has a diverse landscape and rich wildlife (with over 350 species of bird). Much of the wildlife is found in only a few other places in Africa. The two great rivers that run through the park are the Rufiji and Ruaha.

Photographic Subjects

An action shot of a running Impala

Due to the rich biodiversity of the area, the Selous is home to all of the large African animals and it also has one of the few remaining populations of the Wild dog. Probably the main photographic subject in terms of wildlife in the Selous is the ‘painted hunting dog’ (Wild dog). There are now fewer than 5,000 of these animals surviving Africa, making them a very special subject to photograph. The dogs live in packs of up to 30 individuals and have large ears, long legs and a mottled coat. Although the dogs are difficult to find in the Selous, it is well worth trying to photograph them! Also in the reserve one can photograph rare black rhinos which, like the wild dog, have declined in numbers. The Rufiji River that runs through the Selous attracts a lot of wildlife as well as containing hippopotamus and crocodiles.

Photography Tips

A Hippo showing his impressive jaws

The light in the Selous Game Reserve can often be very harsh. It is often a good idea to photograph in the morning and the evening because the sun is lower, offering more shadows, contrast and colour. Also the wildlife is much more active at these times than in the middle of the day. A polarising filter may be a good idea to increase contrast in images by reducing the ‘washed out’ effect and glare from the sun. A long lens of 200 to 500mm is recommended for the Selous as this will get you much closer to the animals. A tele-converter (1.4x or 2x) can also make the subject appear much nearer. One of the best ways to see and photograph the mammals and birds is on a boat safari on the Rufiji River. This can often allow you to see more because the animals are attracted to the source of water.