Monday, June 23, 2008

Migration Update: Masai Mara

The main herds of wildebeest are still in the Grumeti area and moving north, but there is already talk about when the wildebeest may be in the Masai Mara. There have been reports of the first wildebeest on the border of the Serengeti and the Mara Triangle, but these are likely to be small break away groups that came directly from Ndutu through Seronera, bypassing the western corridor. It could also be resident herds that were left behind during last year’s migration. It should be remembered that the migration is not one single mass of 2 million plain’s game moving in unison. Instead, there is an overall movement of wildebeest, zebra and Thomson’s gazelles (and their ensuing predators), but this is made up of smaller pockets of game that may break away, regroup and turn back on themselves numerous times.

Another indication of the arrival of the main herds into the Mara is arrival of the zebra. The zebra herds generally precede the wildebeest herds and these herds have been seen in large numbers crossing the Mara River. Human pressures may also be partially accountable for this as the zebra herds have been grazing in Maasai pastoral land and have been competing for grazing with cattle.

No-one can be completely sure about how all these factors affect the migration paths and rate of movement, but most of the experts and guides seem to believe the migration could arrive early in July. The long grass has also been recently burnt clearing the way for fresh sweet shoots that will be a draw card for the plains game.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Serengeti Migration Update: Grumeti River

The migration is spread from north of Maswa Game Reserve through the Grumeti River and into the Grumeti Reserve. There has been good rainfall over the past week in the western Serengeti.

The Grumeti Reserve has approximately 1.3 million wildebeest spread throughout the reserve. They have been moving back and forth following the rains. Initially, they looked like they were heading west towards Nyasarori, but a lot of rain fell around Ikorongo pulling the main herds back east. All the Grumeti Camps are reporting spectacular game viewing. On the open plains between Sasakwa and Sabora Plain Camp, guides have reported seeing some of the biggest populations of wildebeest in many years. Sabora Plains Camp has reported wildebeest drinking out of their pool. A wildebeest bull even fell in! Lions, cheetah and hyena have been very active in the area.

Wildebeest surround Sabora Plain Camp. Photo: Courtesy of Singita.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Masai Mara Update: Mara River crossing

The big news to report during May is the unexpected arrival of the zebras in huge numbers. Thousands of them are in our area of the Mara covering the Musiara Marsh, Paradise and Topi Plains. These zebra are the residents of an area east of the Masai Mara Game Reserve and they normally migrate into the Reserve every year but this year the migration has happened earlier than we would expect. This may be due to competition for grazing with Masai Cattle in the concession areas bordering the Game Reserve. The zebra have been filing down towards the Mara River in large herds and towards the end of the month we were seeing them crossing the Mara River on an almost daily basis. The resident crocodiles seem delighted as their annual feeding frenzy arrived a few months early and we have seen very large crocodiles manoeuvring into strategic crossing points along the river. On the 23rd five hundred zebras crossed the Mara River; on the 28th a further two hundred crossed with the crocodiles snatching a couple of zebra on each occasion, and on the 30th a very large herd crossed the Mara River and six were taken by crocodiles. On another occasion twelve Thomson gazelles bravely took the plunge and crossed the river ahead of the zebra herd. Sadly all twelve Thomson gazelles were taken by crocodiles and the following herd of zebra all managed to cross without incident! The following day many zebra were seen crossing again and our driver-guides remarked that these are the best sightings of zebra crossings we have had in many years.

Source: Governor's Camp, Mara River, Masai Mara 16 June 2008

Zebras filing up to cross the Mara River

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Wildebeest Migration News: Herds heading north

The migration is heading north towards the Masai Mara. They have entered the Grumeti Reserve and are still crossing the Grumeti River.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Masai Mara Update: Zebra entering the Mara Triangle

The Masai Mara has seen a lot of rain in May. There is good grazing with long grass. Movement of the migration into the Masai Mara is notoriously hard to predict and 2008 is no exception. However, the first indications are that migrating wildebeest may arrive earlier than usual. It has been reported that a large herd of resident zebra has migrated from the Loita Plains into the Masai Mara Reserve. Their entry into the park is usually a precursor to the arrival of the wildebeest from the Serengeti. These herds of zebra were seen moving across Olorukoti and Paradise Plains, crossing the Mara River at the main crossing point onto the Mara triangle.

Grumeti River Crossing

Increasing numbers of wildebeest have been arriving and crossing the Grumeti River. The herds are moving north into the Grumeti Reserve on their way to the Masai Mara where there is more water.

There are dramatic scenes of herds across the river. Predators have been active and making the most of the easy hunt. Crocodiles have been feasting on unfortunate wildebeest, lions have been ambushing them and the hyenas and vultures have been scavenging at every opportunity.

Game drives have been outstanding with guest experiencing the migration at its best. The Grumeti area remains the best place to be based for a safari. The weather is also excellent for game drives. Roads have opened after the heavy rains closed them during the earlier part of the year. Rangers have been back-burning on the short grass plains.

Grumeti River Camp is in the heart of the action at the moment. The Singita camps; namely Sasakwa, Sabora Plains and Faru Faru; in the Grumeti Reserve are also good options for the next month. Robanda private camp is an excellent location for a mobile camp over the next month. It is outside the Serengeti National Park so guest can enjoy game walks and game drives amongst the migrating herds.