The Migration Returns to the Plains
The rains and hence the Great Migration have finally arrived to the famous Southern and Eastern Serengeti Plains. However, the first 3 weeks of December were quite dry (borderline drought conditions). All of us here at Africa Dream Safaris were beginning to worry. Is it going to be another unusually dry winter/green season in the Serengeti? Will the calving be delayed? What will the migration do…perhaps head back to the Northern and Western Woodlands as the Southern and Eastern Plains are too dry? Do we need to start moving campsites, accommodations, itineraries?
Well…it seems all that worrying was a bit premature. On December 19th and 20th, large herds of wildebeest were finally seen streaming out of the woodlands heading south for the plains. Perhaps they somehow sensed the rain coming as by December 23rd rain was steadily falling throughout the Serengeti Ecosystem. Though only light showers had fallen in most areas, it was just enough moisture to cause an explosion of life in the dormant volcanic soils. By December 25th, green shoots had sprouted in most areas of the plains (especially the areas that were burned in the prior dry season) and the great legions of migratory wildebeest, zebra, eland and gazelle were quick to follow.
The main concentrations of wildebeest and zebra are currently concentrated in two main herds withthe biggest herd in the Triangle (south of Naabi Hill) and asecond large herd at the Gol Kopjes (east of Naabi Hill). There are also scattered wildebeest and zebra herds from Ndutu to Kusini. The gazelles have separated as they regularly do and are back home on their normal range on the extreme eastern plains spread from Barafu Kopjes to Lemuta Hill (see ADS Map).
Besides the Migration, sightings remain good for the big cats. Leopards are being regularly spotted in the Seronera Valley of the Central Serengeti. One of our guests spotted a large male leopard within 12 minutes of landing at the Seronera Airstrip. Cheetah sightings are increasing at the Gol Kopjes and Barafu Kopjes now that their main food source is located there. Also, the whole of the Ndutu area continues to offer phenomenal cheetah viewing. Even in early December when it was quite dry at Ndutu, cheetahs were regularly being spotted. The large lion prides of the Central Serengeti are now being seen in the southern and eastern sections of their territories as they follow the herds to the edges of their ranges. Sightings from recent returning guests and driver-guides indicate the Simba Kopjes, Maasai Kopjes and Sametu Kopjes areas as having largest lion pride activity. Our adopted lion pride (the Gol Kopjes pride) still has not been seen yet this December though we have high hopes it will shortly be found on the 2nd kopje at Gol as it has in the last several green seasons.
One of our guests had a rather exhilarating experience in the Ngorongoro Crater when they came across the Tokitok Lion Pride feeding on a recently killed buffalo. The herd of buffalo was none to pleased to see this famous lion pride munching away on one of their fallen comrades. As their numbers swelled, they charged and the lions temporarily fled to safety and cover of the vehicle. Our guests now found themselves in between an agitated pride of lions and an even angrier herd of buffalo. Needless to say the driver-guide made a quick get away but not before the guests could snap off a couple pictures…