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.

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