THE WILDEBEEST MIGRATION.
The endless plains of East Africa are the setting for the world's greatest wildlife spectacle - the 1.5 million animal ungulate (wildebeest) migration. From the vast Serengeti plains to the champagne colored hills of Kenya's Masai Mara over 1.4 million wildebeest and 200,000 zebra and gazelle, relentlessly tracked by Africa's great predators, migrate in a clockwise fashion over 1,800 miles each year in search of rain ripened grass.
There is no real beginning or end to a wildebeest's journey. Its life is an endless pilgrimage, a constant search for food and water. The only beginning is at the moment of birth. An estimated 400,000 wildebeest calves are born during a six week period early each year - usually between late January and mid-March.
As of September 1, 2008: The Wildebeest herds are currently in the northern areas of Tanzania's Serengeti National Park and in Kenya's Masai Mara Reserve. Wildebeest have been crossing the Mara River daily. Guests staying at the Governor's Camps in the Mara and at Migration Camp in the Serengeti have been seeing hundreds of thousands of wildebeest and zebra daily.
As of November 1, 2008: October continued a trend of cool mornings and warm days in Kenya's Masai Mara. The migrating herds of wildebeest and zebra have grazed the Mara grasses right down. The northern and central areas of the Serengeti have received some very heavy rain showers and the herds have followed their noses in search of lush, green grass. The end of the month was marked by large river crossings as wildebeest and zebra left the Mara on their long trek down south. The herds now stretch from Lobo through the Tagora plains area to central Seronera area and down to Naabi Hill. It is common to receive patches of wet weather in the Serengeti towards the end of the dry season (in October), so the rain may just be this and not an early onset of the short rains. If this is the case, it will dry out rapidly and the wildebeest will head back north until they feel the real rains start.
As of January 1, 2009: The mega-herd spent the holidays on the Ndutu plains however, due to lack of rain, have traveled north and west to the longer grass plains around Kusini and Naabi Hill on the border between the Serengeti National Park and the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. When the rains return the nutrient rich short grass will green up rapidly and the herds will return southeast to the Ngorongoro Conservation area for calving.
As of March 1, 2009: As of late February, the lack of good rains has forced the migration to move towards the Maswa Game Reserve border. With the coming of the long rains we expect the herds to return to the Ndutu area and complete calving.
As of May 1, 2009: As of late April, heavy rains have returned to the Serengeti and the wildebeest have made their way back to the Ndutu, Gol and southern Loliondo. The Masai have been watering their cattle in this area and it is hoped that the widespread rains will allow the Masai to return to their more permanent homesteads allowing the wildlife to fully relax.
As of July 1, 2009: As of early July our friends at Nomad report that the bulk of the migration is still in Tanzania - along the western corridor / Musabi areas all the way to Grumeti. Large groups of wildebeest are also up in Lobo area. We would expect the herds to remain spread out until it dries out further (there is still a good amount of green grass and reliable water for the wildebeest and zebras).
As of August 1, 2009: The wildebeest have entered the Mara! The northern Serengeti national park personnel have reliably informed us that the migrating herds have taken two wings – one heading north from Grumeti area to the west, while an eastern wing is the one now moving into the Mara.
As of October 1, 2009: The wildebeest are scattered throughout Tanzania's western corridor, northern Serengeti and Kenya's Masai Mara. Travelers in both Kenya and Tanzania have been witnessing wildebeest crossing the Mara River!
As of January 1, 2010: The wildebeest have moved from the central Serengeti and are now concentrated in the Ndutu area. They are feeding on the new grass in preparation for calving.