May 7, 2009
The northward wildebeest migration is currently in full swing. The wildebeest and zebra herds are departing the plains earlier then we had anticipated in our last post. The eastern plains around gol kopjes, which were lush green and packed with wildebeest (see picture in the April 22nd posting), are now mostly dry and dusty with only a few scattered herds of hearty gazelles remaining.
The migration is currently split into 2 main groups with the biggest herd at Moru Kopjes and a slightly smaller herd at Hidden Valley plus a ‘spattering’ at Simba Kopjes. All this week large columns of wildebeest were seen marching off the plains heading in the general direction of Moru Kopjes. Today the ‘Moru Crush’ was well underway as we saw massive herds of wildebeest entering the beginning of the Mbalageti River Valley at Moru Kopjes and Lake Magadi. The Mbalageti River forms a natural corridor that the wildebeest and zebra follow in May. Both Moru Kopjes and Hidden Valley (the 2 main current locations of the migration) form the headwaters to the Mbalageti River and it is here the migration usually gathers at the end of the green season. Accordingly, we anticipate this general northwest movement to continue as the dry season sets in and the herds follow the Mbalageti River all the way off the plains and into the Western Serengeti. As to when the main wildebeest and zebra herds will arrive into the Western Serengeti around the lodges of Mbalageti, Kirawira and Grumeti is uncertain at the moment and will depend upon the quality (salinity levels) of the water along the plains woodland border. Salinity levels gradually decrease as the Mbalageti River flows northwest and eventually empties into Lake Victoria. And, some scientists hypothesize that its the high salinity levels at the end of the green season that trigger the northward migration to begin in May.
Besides the incredible migration sightings, our recent guests have been delighted and entertained with dozens of lion cubs. There are 5 lion prides with young cubs being seen right now including the areas of Ndutu (11 cubs), Makoma Hill (12 cubs), Sametu Kopjes (2 cubs), Simba Kopjes (6 cubs) and Gol Kopjes (3 cubs).
We are now entering peak season though you wouldn’t know it by game driving the usually busy Ngorongoro Crater. Yesterday, there were only 8 total vehicles game driving the floor of the Crater! Here at African Dream Safaris we have 7 vehicles out in the Serengeti at the moment but by this time next week we will have over 20! Needless to say we are all busy gearing up for peak season and looking forward to all the wonderful wildlife sightings that will surely transpire in the weeks to come. With the migration just departing the african safari plains, it’s going to be an incredible May/June season in the Serengeti. Just for comparison, this exact time last year the migration was already crossing the Grumeti River 30 miles to the northwest of its current location at Moru Kopjes.