By Emmanuel Kichao – Wildebeest Calving Season
Jambo! I’m Emmanuel Kichao, a driver-guide with ADS, and I have just returned from the bush with my nice clients Toni and Richard. The safari dates were February 20, 2013 to March 2, 2013. We had a wonderful experience and it was very fortunate timing to be in the Serengeti to witness the wildebeest calving season.
The wildebeest calving that takes place every year on the southern Serengeti plains has to be one of the top wonders of the natural world. Every year the majority of the adult female wildebeest population (estimated to be about 500,000 pregnant females) participate in a mass synchronized birthing in which they all drop their newborn calves within the same 2-week period. They do this to ‘flood the market’ so to speak with their defenseless babies so that the predators (lion, cheetah, leopard and spotted hyena) will only be able to kill and eat so many in a short period.
The timing of this 2-week birth spike or calving window varies each year and is dependent upon grazing and weather conditions. In years with abundant rainfall at the beginning of the green season in December, which triggers fresh and nutritious grass growth, the wildebeest may calve as early as January. In drought years the female wildebeest can delay giving birth until March in hopes of more optimal conditions (i.e. better grazing and more standing water). This year mid-February was the lucky time to witness to the mass calving.
I have included a few pictures I took on my most recent safari to the Serengeti and Ngorongoro.