May 15, 2009
How do over a million wildebeest go missing? This was the million dollar question being asked by many guests on their African Safaris in the Serengeti National Park for the first half of this week. The massive herds of wildebeest and zebra that had besieged the Moru Kopjes area (referred to as the ‘Moru Crush’) in our last post, departed just as quickly as they had arrived. Then, yesterday when all the tour companies were scrambling to locate the migration it was our very own African Dream Safaris guide (Reginald Matemu) who spotted dust plumes on the backside of Makoma Hill. This is the western side of Makoma Hill that faces away from the main tourist routes in Seronera. And sure enough after traversing to the back side of Makoma Hill, he discovered a plain completely choked black with wildebeest that lay completely hidden from the main tourist routes.
Last night this massive herd made its way around the base of Makoma Hill and flooded out onto to the Makoma Plain. This morning large herds of wildebeest streamed to the Seronera River. One of our senior guides commented that he had never seen such a huge herd of wildebeest in Seronera before. Incredible! All day long wildebeest continued to poor across the Makoma plain on their way to drink at the Seronera River. One of our guests out on safari waited for 42 minutes (yes…he timed it with his stopwatch) while a continuous column of wildebeest crossed the road in front of their vehicle enroot to the Seronera River.
Dozens of hunting attempts (only one successful one was reported) were seen all day long along the Seronerea River by the large prides of lions that inhabit the western edge of the Seronera Valley including the Makoma pride. One of our Africa Dream Safaris guides screeched in excitement over the radio: ‘these lions are hunting like crazy’! Even our seasoned safari guides still get overwhelmed with excitement at times and loose their ‘cool’.
On another interesting note, we had a group out on safari spot 6 cheetahs today (in 3 different groupings) at the Gol Kopjes on just a 2-hour game drive enroot from the Serengeti to the Ngorongoro Crater. Tens of thousands of both Grant’s and Thomson’s gazelles have moved into the Gol Kopjes area and the East Serengeti in the wake of the wildebeest of and zebra herds moving off (called successional grazing).
The northward migration is accelerating quickly and we anticipate the herds to push into the Western Corridor of the Serengeti shortly. We will likely start seeing significant herds of wildebeest start appearing in the Musabi Plains (the first open plain in the West) in about a week before moving down the corridor. The entire Western Serengeti is green and lush at the moment as there have been good rains in this area all throughout the green season. This will no doubt attract the migration here shortly as Seronera and the Central Serengeti begin drying out. Seronera is still a bit green at the moment and we had some brief thundershowers last night so scattered herds of wildebeest will likely remain in the valley for quite some time after the core of the migration moves west. Safari Njema!