17 November 2004
November 17th 2004
Finally the longest wildebeest migration in living memory appears to be over, with only a few ‘stragglers’ still remaining on the plains of the Maasai Mara.
However, there are still thousands of wildebeest to be seen in the Mara, courtesy of the herds from Loita, which traditionally remain here until later in the year. These herds should stay in the Mara until late December or early January (as long as the long rains do not arrive early and make the plains too wet), when they will head for their calving grounds on the Loita Plains.
Following the short rains of recent weeks, most of the plains that were recently burnt are now teeming with young shoots of grass and native ‘tissue-paper’ flowers. This adds to the beauty of the plains, with large herds of smaller herbivores roaming freely with little fear of predators, which no longer have much cover to hide in.
Over the past week, the last of the Serengeti herds have been crossing west into the Mara Conservancy at Paradise crossing point, from where they head straight south towards the Serengeti. The Loita herds, meanwhile, are congregating around Bila Shaka, Rhino Ridge, the areas north of Mara Intrepids and Explorer camps, and just over the reserve’s northern boundary.
The Mara’s Big Cats are still active and can be seen with ease in their respective territories.
8 November 2004
November 6th 2004
After the longest migration in living memory, the stage is now set for a mass exodus of the migratory wildebeest and zebra herds back to the plains of the Serengeti.
By last weekend, the herds in the Mara Conservancy had begun to move en masse northwards towards Oloololo Gate ”“ raising the unusual prospect that they might stay even longer in the Maasai Mara. However, by last Wednesday the situation had reversed, and the herds that had congregated around Oloololo Gate and Musiara Marsh began to move back south, crossing into the Conservancy at the busy Paradise crossing point.
It was at this point on the Mara River that the animals’ instinctive nature could be witnessed in all its raw and unfathomable intensity. While hundreds of wildebeest and zebra had massed on the western side of the river, it was clearly against their nature to cross eastwards ”“ and most just stared at the water for some minutes before turning around and resuming their inexorable march south.
For the past three days, the southern Mara plains have been witness to lines of wildebeest stretching up to 10 kilometres long ”“ all striding steadily southwards. At this pace, we estimate it will only be another 10 days before all the Serengeti herds have returned to Tanzania, and the Mara will be left with its own Loita wildebeest population, which are always the last to leave. In some years, they do not leave until January ”“ but it could be even later this year!
Watch this space for what could be our concluding chapter next week.