The annual wildebeest migration through the Serengeti and the Masai Mara is the largest mass movement of land mammals on the planet – with more than a million animals following the rains. But that is not where the game viewing ends; large prides of lions, elephants and giraffes in grasslands, gazelles and eland to mention but a few.
Viewing animals in the Serengeti is awesome throughout the year, the best times depend on the area you’re in. However, during the dry season (June to October) it is easier to spot animals. The best time for the annual wildebeest migrations here is usually in June/July.
The Serengeti has an abundance of animals, from the Big Five – lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo and black rhino (although these are rarely spotted) – to giraffe, Grant’s gazelle, impala, kongoni, topi and eland.
The migration is linked to the amount the rainfall and is fairly predictable as the Wildebeest are looking for fresh water and grazing opportunities. The migration happens year around – it will depend on where you look!
The migration covers over 3,000 kilometres on the stage of the Serengeti and Masai Mara plains. It is a constant movement of 2.5 million animals. The migratory herds: 1.7 million wildebeest, the remainder being zebra, Thomson’s Gazelle and eland. The predators: As the herds travel they are pursued by the Big Cats – lion, leopard and cheetah who are in the main territorial. They also fall prey to hunting dog, hyena and jackal as well as crocodile lurking in the rivers. The Residents: Elephant, giraffe, black and white rhino, topi, impala, buffalo, Grant’s gazelle, buffalo, warthog, waterbuck, hippo, hartebeest and roan antelope can be found all year across the parks. Below is an approximate guide only.
The herds spread out as the rains fall, then can be seen massing with their young. By Apr they are shifting slowly north into the central Serengeti. May finds them moving in columns into the Western Corridor whose grasslands are maintained by the flood waters of the Mbalageti and Grumeti Rivers.
The cool, dry months. The herds mass on the western wooded grasslands. The famous rut usually occurs in the Seronera area, then crossing the Grumeti, two flanks can appear rapidly moving west and out of the park, with the other flank heading north towards Lobo, reaching the Mara usually by Aug. The river crossings in the Mara offer dramatic moments as animals perish in swollen flood waters and the jaws of crocodiles.
The nomadic herds are found on the well watered expanse of open and bushed grasslands of the Mara as these are usually the driest months in the Serengeti. The short rains are not far away.
The herds head south feeling the rains coming, moving into the eastern woodlands of the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Conservation area. By Jan they settle on the short grass plains of the southern Serengeti, Dec to Jan being the peak for the birth of zebra foals and late Jan to Feb of wildebeest calves. The predators are close by. Calves are usually on their feet within 3 minutes but the young are very vulnerable.
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