March 2009 Bush Report
The unusual drought (I think we can all no longer deny the inevitable use of this term) continues to persist in the Serengeti and most of the Tanzania Safari. Rain showers have been limited and widely scattered over the last 2 months. In fact, it seems the last decent amount of precipitation we received was way back in December. The brief rain showers received in mid March turned out not to be a signal of greener ‘things’ to come but rather just a few fleeting thundershowers.
As during all periods of low rainfall, the wildebeest respond instinctively by dispersing far and wide throughout the Serengeti Ecosystem. There just isn’t enough rainfall (as there usually is in March) and hence not enough green grass and potable water for the great herds to come together and unite on their traditional green season range on the southern and eastern Serengeti plains.
The good news is that the current dispersion of the wildebeest migration is located in very accessible areas throughout the Central and South Serengeti meaning that our guests have been inundated with wildebeest sightings over the course of their entire safaris and not just limited to the Southern/Eastern plains that we usually see during typical green season safaris.
The even better news is that the dispersion of the wildebeest especially in the Central Serengeti and Seronera Valley have meant great predatory action. Confused and scattered wildebeest in the Big Cat capital of Africa (Seronera) always equals action, pure and simple! And, reports have been flooding in from returning guests of both lion and cheetah hunts thought Seronera Valley.
The epicenter of the action at the moment in the Central Serengeti appears to be the Maasai Kopjes. In fact, just this yesterday morning, one of our groups witnessed an exciting cheetah kill with a mother and her four sub-adult cubs. About two weeks ago and also at the Maasai Kopjes, other guest witnessed several female lions taking down a wildebeest just feet from their vehicle. One group just returned with a great count of 62 lions, 30 cheetahs, 4 leopards and a ‘ton’ of wildebeest. Of course, we always stress quality sightings over quantity but needless to say these numbers are impressive.
In any event, the current ‘whereabouts’ of the migration are as follows:
Simiyu Ranger Post, which is located roughly 1/2 way between Moru Kopjes and Kusini Camp in the southwestern Serengeti. This seldom travelled track linking Moru and Simiyu is an ADS driver-guide favorite. As long as it’s relatively dry (the black cotton soil here can be treacherous in the rains), this track makes a great off the beaten path drive and is packed full of wildebeest at the moment.
Matiti – huge herds are being reported just southwest of Matiti and towards Makao. Access is about a 1-hour drive southwest of Ndutu deep within the southwestern Ngorongoro Conservation Area. Though unverified, it’s more then likely that these herds stretch into the inaccessible Masawa Game Reserve.
Simba Kopjes – Just yesterday we received reports of another big herd of wildebeest on the southwest side of Simba Kopjes near the hippo pool.
Moru Kopjes – A medium size herd has been located along the western flank of these beautiful kopjes.
Maasai Kopjes – Scattered herds have been reported throughout the Maasai Kopjes complex and especially at the marsh just south of the kopjes.
The one obvious area missing from all of our reports is the entire Eastern Serengeti, which in some green seasons plays host to the majority of the migration. This year has been extremely unusual in that the eastern plains have received very little or no rainfall. Many of the areas in the east that were so great last green season are completely barren this year. Everything east of Naabi Hill including such famous spots as Gol Kopjes, Barafu Kopjes, Lemuta Hill and Nasera Rock is very dry at the moment.
Serengeti map links below to help put the above locations in perspective: