Geological events have been a major influence of evolution in the East African Rift region, an area with more endemic species than anywhere else on a continental mainland. Two and a half million years ago, in what today is northern Tanzania, the top blew off a gigantic volcanic mountain creating the largest intact caldera in the world. Today, the crater is a natural park for wildlife. Protected by towering lava walls, nurtured by a cloud forest, which feeds the water it collects to the plains below, the Ngorongoro Crater is unrivaled in the richness and diversity of its animal and plant life. The Black Rhinoceros browses on leafy plants and fruit, which encourages the growth of grasses that benefit other species including egrets and tickbirds that reduce the mammal's ectoparasite load.
community ecology, rhinoceros, birds, geology, East African Rift, Ngorongoro Crater