28 January 2005
Sustained rain in central and western Serengeti through November and early December meant that the herds were well spread out in the central woodlands and on the western part of the Serengeti Plain. Moru Kopjes was the place to be, as game started to gather at the easternmost extent of the green. Then, mid December saw the first decent rainfall on the southern plains, and soon long lines of wildebeest and zebra were streaming out of the woodlands to cash in on the lush new-growth grass to be had there.
The cows depend on this highly nutritious forage at this time of the year to see them through the late stages of pregnancy and to meet the demands placed on them after their calves are born.
Rainfall was heavy at times (severe flash flooding of Olduvai Gorge caused long delays on the Ngorongoro / Naabi Hill track), but evenly distributed, and the resulting widespread availability of quality grazing was reflected in the way the game was scattered widely over the plains; huge herds clustered in small areas close to water are a more dramatic sight, but often imply stress, as large numbers of game are forced to compete for scarce resources of food and water, which are, inevitably, rapidly depleted.
But not so this month. Driving across the short grass plains, near Gol Mountains for instance, the panoramic vistas were endlessly dotted with wildebeest, zebra, Thompson's & Grant's gazelle, and large herds of eland all munching happily.
This state of affairs continued into early January, with periodic showers replenishing the grassland, and the herds continuing to make the most of this windfall