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Serengeti Migration update

December 3, 2012 East Africa Bush Tails

By the Month of Februar y, the height of the Wildebeest migration will have shifted to the plains and woodlands around Ndutu (the area between Ngorongoro and Serengeti National parks). Vast herds of bulls , adolescents and mothers, most of who will have given birth to their biscuit colored youngsters will be scattered all over. Such a plethora of babies is all due to the interesting survival strategy wildebeest have evolved by synchronizing their births with figures so amazing that scientist has estimated that up to 8,000 calves are born daily during the 3 weeks of calving period. The young calves are vulnerable to predators, but since there are so many of them at the same time, the predators can’t get them all, so sufficient numbers can grow up. A calf eats its first grass at about 10 days, although it is still suckled for at least 6 months. Even after weaning, many remain with the mother until the next year’s calf is born. This cycle continues year in year out but I bet you don’t want to miss out this time round!


The key element in understanding ‘The Greatest Wildlife Show on Earth’ is that it follows the general ‘rainfall gradient’ across the ecosystem, with lower rainfall in the southeast (short -grass plains) and higher rainfall in the northwest. The migration moves from Kenya back to the short -grass plains of the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Conservation Area once the short rains have begun (usually in late October into November), and after the short grass plains have dried out (usually in April or May), the migration moves northwest to higher rainfall areas and areas of permanent water – and fresh grass.

From December to April wildebeest, zebra, eland and Thomson’s gazelle usually concentrate on the t reeless short- grass plains in the extreme southeastern Serengeti and Western Ngorongoro Conservation Area near Lake Ndutu in search of short grass, which they prefer over the longer dry -stemmed variety. In April and May, the height of the rainy season, a 4 wd vehicle is highly recommended.