30 July 2004
MIGRATION 2004 UPDATE:
A great deal has happened since our update last week concerning the wildebeest migration. The Central and Burrungat plains where the wildebeests first settled after coming from the Serengeti, is almost empty save for a few stragglers. The herd as they left this area took three different directions, the majority crossed into the Mara conservancy. A massive crossing occurred near Look Out hill with most of wildebeest moving into the Mara triangle in anticipation of new shoots of grass fire in the area. Wildebeest seem to associate the burning on the plains with new grass which normally occur after the rains.
In the case of the Conservancy, there hasn‘t been adequate amount of rain save for some light showers, which has done no more than just settle the dust and ashes in the burnt areas. So there is very little for the wildebeest to feed on, not that there is no grass on the eastern side of the Mara River, but there an anticipation of lush grazing which has forever kept the wildebeest on the move. We are now enjoying the sight of the herds re-crossing the Mara River at the Paradise crossing point almost on a daily basis, because of the burning of the grass on Paradise plains. Both the local and the southern populations are now all mixed together and some of the herds have headed eastwards towards Sekenani Gate on the eastern border of the reserve but this area is just as dry as the plains they left behind. Their natural instinct is to believe that “grass is greener” on the other side until proved otherwise. We anticipate that this herd won‘t stay long in this area.
The third group crossed the Talek River and proceeded towards the Rhino Ridge and onto Paradise Plains and are now joining up with the group which have arrived back from the Conservancy area. You will never understand the Wildebeest’s mind set, covering their many decisions to move from one area to another and back again! This group is not as large as the Eastern and the Western herds.
As of now, a higher concentration of animals is on the Conservancy side but they are crossing East in high numbers. The second highest concentration is between Roan hill and Sekenani gate but there are still bigger herds seen across the border in Serengeti. We still expect a lot more activity in the coming weeks.
23 July 2004
MIGRATION 2004 UPDATE
July 23rd 2004
The wildebeest migration in the Maasai Mara seems to be taking on a dramatically different shape every few days. Since last week’s update, light rains drifting across the Possee and Burrungat plains and into the Mara Conservancy have caused the herds to move in three different directions. River crossings are continuing at four different places as herds continue to pour into the Conservancy. Another herd heading due north towards Mara Intrepids and Explorer has been busy crossing the Talek River on both sides of the camps. A third herd has reached the Burrungat Plains and is now heading east towards Sekenani Gate.
Along the Talek River, two prides of lions have taken up position to pick up stragglers at the main river crossings ”“ and Intrepids guests have witnessed several lion kills over the past week. Bella, the female leopard and star of BBC’s Big Cat Diary, and her cub have also taken advantage of the crossings from a hideout at Mutamaiyo Lugga, one of the main streams feeding into the Talek.
Although progress from the south has slowed in recent days, herds continue to amass over the Serengeti border, with some small groups heading west and entering the Mara Conservancy near the Olare Saltlick. Although there will be more herds coming across the border in the coming days, there is more than enough to see in the reserve for the time being!
Watch this space for more information from the migration front line!
21 July 2004
The world’s greatest wildlife spectacle arrived in force in the Maasai Mara this week, as a light rain sweeping across the reserve’s central and southern plains triggered a mass movement of wildebeest and zebra from the northern Serengeti. The single day’s rain marked an almost instant change in the migration, which has been threatening to spill over the Tanzanian border for the past three weeks.
Since the beginning of the week, the Central, Burrungat and Meta plains have been teeming with an estimated 500,000-600,000 wildebeest and zebra ”“ nearly a third of the entire population. A second group of about 100,000 zebra has now separated from the main herds and is heading east onto the Posee Plains.
Meanwhile, hundreds of wildebeest have been crossing into the Mara Conservancy at four points on the Mara River near Lookout Hill, prompting a feeding frenzy among the resident Nile crocodiles. The Loita population of wildebeest and zebra continue to cross at the Paradise crossing point with several groups of Thomson’s gazelle ”“ many of which have already succumbed to the crocs’ waiting jaws.
As we wait for the remainder of the herds gathering on the Serengeti plains to traverse the border, their advance guard is about to cross the Talek River near Mara Intrepids towards Rhino Ridge. Across the central Mara, the plains are alive with the telltale chorus of grunts that shows the greatest movement of mammals on Earth is finally in full swing...