The Lake Manyara National Park in Tanzania, where the lake with the same name is located, is dominated by an open plains, near the lake shore, and by an acacia forest in the part closest to the rocky slope of the Rift Valley; in the Northernmost part, near the main entrance, there is a dense equatorial forest fed by the ground water and dominated by the fig plants and, in the most Southern part, there is the Marang Forest that extends for 250 sq km on the Rift Valley slope, this part was added in 2012 to the Lake Manyara National Park.
This diversity of habitat means that in the park live different species of animals, some of these exclusive of a specific type of vegetation.
Among the mammals in the park there are buffaloes, giraffes, hippos, baboons, blue monkeys and various species of antelopes.
Of course, elephants are also present, unfortunately in the '80s they suffered a slight decline, due to poaching, but less heavily compared to other parks in Tanzania that are larger.
Since the 1990s the elephant population has grown in number and has returned to pre-poaching levels; now the elephants of the Lake Manyara are also very relaxed towards the vehicles circulating in the park, although in recent years there have been some isolated episodes of poaching.
The recent annexation of the Marang Forest preserves an ancient migratory corridor of the elephants that from the Lake Manyara move to the plateau that is more to the West.
There are many leopards among the predators, but, in most cases, they hide in the thickest bush and are therefore difficult to spot; there are also lions, that are known as "climbing lions" because they have the habit of climbing on the branches of the trees.
Despite the small size of the the Lake Manyara National Park there are many species of birds, thanks to the difference in habitatthat is inside: forest, bush savannah, grassy savannah and alkaline lake.
There are many species of forest and aquatic species that can be observed in the park, some are resident species, others are migratory and are present here only at certain times of the year.
Not only do the birds migrate, but also the herbivores make a migratory movement within the ecosystem of the Tarangire, of which the Lake Manyara National Park is part; in particular wildebeests, zebras, buffalos, some antelopes and elephants move in this territory in search for water and food, their movement is marked by the alternation of the dry season and the green season.
The Lake Manyara is the only park where night safaris are allowed, but to participate one must stay in the only lodge inside the park; during a night safari one can sight the species of crepuscular and nocturnal mammals like the bush babies, the nocturnal birds like the owls, moreover lions and leopards are more active at night.