Kopjes on the Serengeti Plains


               One of the interesting features of the 30,000 square kilometers of the Serengeti Plains in Tanzania are the myriad kopje (pronounced “copy” or copies{pl]). I took this photo from the window of a Cessna Caravan as we were leaving on our last day of a string of kopjes that we drove by the day before.

               A million or so years ago the Serengeti was covered by volcanic rock and ash from the nearby Ngorongoro eruptions. Over some millennia the softer volcanic rocks and ash were eroded away by wind and rain leaving behind great mounds of tough metamorphic granite. Soil from the fertile Serengeti fills the crack and crevices of the kopjes nourishing plants and trees to provide food and shelter for small animals like hyrax and kipspringer.


It also provides a vantage point for lion prides, such as the one in these pictures. During the day, the lions sprawl over the rocks and under whatever shade the trees might provide.

By the time evening shadows creep across the plains the pride has picked out a zebra or wildebeest for its nocturnal feast and leave the kopje observation post and go on the hunt.