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Termites – The Unsung Heroes of Serengeti National Park

You should have probably known already that termites aren't all that bad. They do certainly wreak havoc to your homes due to their incessant feeding time 24/7, but that's not all there is to them. There's more to termites than what meets the eye and more than just monster munching all the wood on earth. Termites have a greater purpose in the entire ecological system balance, that without them certain species will be compromised and would eventually lead to the imbalance of the web of life. This is probably the reason why no matter how much you would hate them having been destroying properties, you can't just simply take them out of the equation on a whim. Yes, you can take them out of your house, but you can't take them out of the world. Fortunately, there are just too many of them, that no matter how many termite colonies you eradicate within the urban premises of your subdivision, you are still not half of a single percent in taking out the entire species in the world. Termites, are so many that if you gather them all in this world and weigh them, they would weigh more than the weight of all human beings combined. However, an offsetting interesting fact also exists. It is that termites have done more damages than all hurricanes, tornadoes and fires have destroyed. Nevertheless, they are still important species in the planet.

But still, the importance of termites is still quite difficult to grasp in everyone's minds and hearts. You can't blame everyone though how they see termites, because of what can be readily and evidently seen in them when they start taking it on your properties. Therefore it would be best to give you a better demonstrative example as to how important termites are really in this world and hopefully it would take away that prejudice that has long been there against these insects. And there's no better way to take a more comprehensive perspective than to look at how they interact in their natural habitat.

The Serengeti National Park

The Serengeti national park is one of the most renowned national parks in this world and perhaps even one of the largest, serving as home to many species of the wild, including those that are already endangered. Serengeti National Park is located in the northern part of Tanzania, and southwest of Kenya in Africa. The establishment of the park was sometime around 1941, covering 14,800 square kms, or about 5,700 square miles of land area. The entire place is comprised of flat open grasslands, some rocky small hills called "kopjes" and certain woodlands and savannas in the western side of the national park. For some time, Serengeti has been the only park in Africa where seasonal migrations of many different animal species occur.

The park has been a home to more than 200 bird species and over 35 species of plain mammals, including zebras, lions, hyenas, cheetahs, leopards, giraffes and wildebeests. There are also gazelles and elephants inhabiting the area but they weren't that much prevalent until 1960's. The increasing number of human population residing in the surrounding areas and along with urbanization that deprived the animals of their natural resources, has eventually forced much of the gazelles and elephants into the protected park. At present there are now 200,000 zebras, 2 million wildebeest, 1 million gazelles, and some thousands of elephants inhabit the park. The wide plains of Serengeti have also been a home to the greatly endangered species of black rhinoceroses. On rainy seasons, usually between November and December, millions of animal species from across the continent will come into the park to graze. The grazing often takes place in the south-eastern plains. This part of Serengeti has only a very few bodies of waterand thus becoming excessively upon the end of the rainy season. This will practically force all the wildebeest, gazelles and as well as zebras to migrate to the western part of the park.

Role of Termites in Serengeti

Of course, along with the mammals that inhabit Serengeti, are also species of insects in different sorts that includes species of termites. As all of the other animals that live in the Serengeti plains play their role in harmonizing the ecosystem in Serengeti so does the termites that live in the area. The role of termites is quite important as they serve as decomposers of wood and other plant materials which in turn become the nourishment to the soil. Termites also aerate the soil which in turn making it more fertile to grow various forms of plants and trees.

Termites are known to build mounds that are several feet high off the ground. Inside these termite mounds are colonies of termites that harmoniously coexist with each other on a higher level of structural system and stratification. Also, inside the mounds are deep tunnels and vertical shafts that can be as deep as several meters into the earth. These holes provide sufficient ventilation for the colony. But the benefits of these holes don't only serve their creators, but also they serve as home to a variety of animal species. Animals like mongoose, snakes and wild mice are amongst the cohabiters of a termite mound. If you are a sane person, you would not put your hands inside a termite mound.

If you are in Serengeti, you would be able to notice that certain mammals like gnus (wildebeest) and or some predators like cheetahs or lions, often use termite mounds as posts for look-outs especially when they are out for the hunt. Of course, it could also be used for the other hand to look for any possibility of imminent danger and avoid it. A few feet of ground elevation can already be a crucial leverage in the wild, being able to spot detriments or food. Termite mounds also increase the propensity of habitat diversity by providing susceptible living grounds for certain specific types of animals.

Michael Rozatoru :)
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