The Northward Migration Crosses the Mara River
It has been a strange northward migration season here in the Serengeti. Last year in 2009 we saw a relatively typical northward movement with the migratory wildebeest and zebra moving into the Central Serengeti in May, the West Serengeti in June and finally the North Serengeti in July. We reported the first major crossing of the Mara River on July 29, 2009. The 2010 northward migration couldn’t be any further different from what we had witnessed in 2009.
This year the bulk of the migration had departed the plains by the end of April despite some fairly healthy rains. The situation got more unusual with sizeable herds moving directly north in May (roughly 2 months ahead of schedule) and skipping the Western Serengeti all together. We can now report that we have had the first major Mara River crossings up in the extreme North Serengeti on June 29th and June 30th, 2010. This is almost a full month ahead of a typical year.
The migration (both the wildebeest and zebra herds) is currently very widely dispersed throughout the entire top half of the Serengeti ecosystem. There are still a few scattered herds in the West Serengeti but the majority of the action is now taking place in the North Serengeti from Lobo Valley north to Bologonja Springs and northwest through Wogakuira and up to the Mara River. There are also sizeable concentrations ranging in the Grumeti Game Reserve. The gazelles are always the last migratory species to depart the plains and we are just finally seeing large herds of gazelles stream through Seronera and the Central Serengeti and pushing into the Western Corridor.
Wildlife viewing excluding the migration has been better then usual with predators including cheetah, lion, leopard and spotted hyena being regularly spotted on almost a daily basis in the Central Serengeti. We had guests witness a leopard chasing and bringing down a live adult wildebeest yesterday, which was something truly extraordinary (2nd time I have every heard of this happening). Last month, there was a quite a bit of activity in Seronera with several guests witnessing Seronera’s famous lion prides showing off their hunting skills. We had one guest bring back some incredible photos of one such encounter between a lion pride and an old bull buffalo (pictured below).
We also had a couple rare sightings a few weeks back of those elusive black rhinos in the Moru Kopjes complex in the Central Serengeti. Elephant viewing remains tremendous and all our guides are commenting on how the elephant population has been thriving the last couple of years.