The Wildebeest have returned to the plains!
What a green season this is already shaping up to be! All of us here at Africa Dream Safaris are just ecstatic over the return of the migration to the plains. Watching the first large columns of wildebeest and zebra thunder back onto the Serengeti plains is arguably THE defining moment of the entire migration! Sure, wildebeest plunging into the crocodile-infested waters of the Mara River in the dry season is pretty impressive, the synchronized mass-birthing of wildebeest during the mid green season is a sight to behold, and even the frenzied rut of wildebeest during their northward migration is pretty remarkable! But, being witness to the first large herd of wildebeest as they pour out of the northern woodlands and back onto the southern plains at the beginning of the green season is such an incredible and awe-inspiring experience that it might just be the most brilliant highlight of the entire cycle. This is a definitive moment for the wildebeest in their annual migration; for a wildebeest to finally reach the verdant Serengeti plains at the beginning of the green season is akin to a marathon racer when he or she finally crosses that finish line.
In our last posting at the end of November, the rains had finally begun in earnest and had triggered the great herds of wildebeest, zebra, gazelle and eland to begin their southward migration. However, these rain showers diminished quickly at the beginning of December stalling the largest herds of wildebeest in the Central Serengeti, though a few smaller groupings had already made it to the plains. Then, towards the middle of December, the rains began to fall again. The ample moisture from this renewed rainfall transformed the southern and eastern Serengeti plains into an herbivore’s paradise of new grass and fresh water. The great migratory herds were not far behind! By the last week of December the remaining wildebeest herds that had temporarily taken refuge in the Central Serengeti in early December had finally flooded onto the plains and crossed that finish line.
What a splendid holiday period this has been for our guests out on african safari! The end of December is always one of the busiest times of year here at Africa Dream Safaris with almost all our guides and vehicles out in the bush so it was perfect timing to provide so many of our guests with the opportunity to welcome the great herds of wildebeest back home to their ancestral calving grounds on the short grass plains of the Serengeti.
As of today, the migration is dispersed throughout both the southern and eastern Serengeti. Uncountable numbers of migratory wildebeest, zebra, gazelle and eland, along with all the attendant predators (lion, cheetah and spotted hyena), can be seen ranging from Kusini and Ndutu on the Southern Plains to Lemuta Hill and Nasera Rock on the Eastern Plains. If the rains continue, we expect the wildebeest to head further south past Ndutu and Kusini towards the Matiti Plains and further east of Lemuta Hill to the extreme short grass, volcanic plains called the Salei Plains. The female wildebeest herds in particular seem called to these remote plains to drop their newborn calves as long as the rains continue to generate fresh green grass and potable water. These remote plains, lying deep within the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, are closest to the extinct volcanoes that border this region. Because of the thick volcanic ash that settled over this area millions of years ago, the soil here produces the most nutrient rich grasses of the entire ecosystem.