Crossing the crocodile infested rivers. Many wildebeest loose
The Wildebeest/ Gnu (Connochaetes
The wildebeest often referred to as the
gnu is an antelope found in Africa south of the equator. The
name wildebeest is Afrikaans / Dutch for wild beast or wild cattle.
Gnu is the Khoi Khoi for the same animals. They are even-toed
ungulates, belong to the family Bovidae. The name
Chonnochaetes is descriptive, derived from the Greek Konnos
for beards. Simply put, Wildebeest refer to the wild cattle
with a beard found in the plains of East and Southern Africa.
Two species- the blue wildebeest and the white tailed gnus have been
identified. The white tailed gnus are found in southern Africa
while the blue wildebeest are found in East Africa. Both the male
and the female wildebeest have curved horns.
In the Serengeti and Masai Mara
ecosystems the wildebeest outnumber all the other ungulates
The clown of the plains
The term "clown of the plains" in
reference to wildebeest can be attributed to its funny behavior
shaped by inherent characteristics of the animal. It is a dustbin of
body parts of the remnants of creation. A closer look reveals
at the forequarters gives the impression of one looking at an
ox-horse. The head with curved horns tell us its an ox with a
main of the horse, while the menacing look gives it some
characteristics of a buffalo. The neck and the shoulders have
tiger like stripes while the tail belongs to the horse. To complete
the picture is the gait and the characteristic confusion gives an
impression of animal that is likely to topple over any time.
Female wildebeest synchronize their
estrus thus giving birth at the same time. Mating takes place
between May and June in Masai Mara while calving takes place between
February and March in Southern or central Serengeti. The mating
season is characterized by a period of heightened sexual period of
the males called the rut. At this time males establish
temporary territory and mates with estrus females venturing into
them. 90% of calving takes place in first two weeks of
February. Simultaneous calving increases the chances of survival of
the foals. Young ones born out of calving period are not
likely to survive.
Masai Mara And
The wildebeest shapes,
conditions and maintain the Mara Serengeti Ecosystem. Covering
a total of 25,000 Km sq, the contiguous ecosystem is extremely rich,
self sustaining and hence it has earned the label of the only
"true ecosystem" on earth.
Masai (Maasai) Mara enjoys a magical
From the tops of the rounded hills, the panoramic views of
expansive grassy plains teaming with herds of animals resemble a
canvas painting. The overwhelming populations and the rich species
presentation is mesmerizing. "The
Masai (Maasai) Mara ecosystem has
one of the richest assemblages of wildlife in the world and supports
about 237 herbivores per km2
, making it one of the most productive natural terrestrial
ecosystems" On other hand
Park is the best place to see predators in actions. The predator
population is over 10,000 individuals. 8000 0f these are spotted
hyenas and 3000 lions whose males famed for their black manes.
Seronera with its visitor centre is not only ideal for information
but it a major wildlife hub with all the species represented.
Hippos, lions, leopards, crocodiles, giraffes and primates can all
be spotted within the area. Birdlife is profuse. The park has a
total of 500 species recorded of birds
Migration Serengeti 2012
The annual or
great Maasai (Masai) Mara /Serengeti
wildebeest migration is not about
wildebeests migrating per se but rather its influence on life on
the whole ecosystem. The migration is a natural phenomenon, a
never ending milling of over 2.5 million wild animals comprised of
about 1.7 million wildebeests, 800,000 common Zebras and gazelle,
followed closely by their predators-lions, hyenas, leopards,
jackals. Hovering in the skies are thousands of
vultures, the super predators. Patient in nature, the vultures
survey the migrating herds descending on the dead carcasses reducing
them to skeletons in a matter of seconds. The hazardous
crossing of crocodile invested Mara and Grumeti rivers is magical
wonder of nature attracting thousands of human beings. This
survival of the fittest spectacle has been described at the
"seventh wonder of the modern world". Strategic sighting
of the migrating herds tend to influence the setting up of tourism
Why they migrate.
is influenced by various factors. Wildebeest have a very selective
diet. They are attracted to the lush green grass hence they
have keep on the move following the rain patterns. In
addition wildebeest are known to congregate in plains with grasses
rich in nitrogen and phosphorous. Luck or availability of
these two minerals will influence where they will go. The herd
mentality is an anti predation behavior. Safety in numbers
come into play. This phenomenon of acting in herds or swarms has
been described as "swarm intelligence", ganging up to overcome an
obstacle as one. This comes into play especially when crossing
turbulent rivers. In a group, they will probably succeed in
slowing down the turbulent and hence cross. In a group, they can
discourage a predator from attacking. Also running in large
groups makes it very difficult for a predator to focus on a specific
prey. Tradition has been advanced as another factor influencing
migration. That it's normal or the nature of the wildebeest is
Dangers / Benefits migrating herds:
Migrating herds have to
contend with crocodile infested and often flooded rivers.
Crossing Mara river is perilous and more so putting into
consideration that they have to cross and re-cross it several times.
Besides the migrating herds sometimes will contract diseases along
the way. A good example is the turning disease, which makes
the animal turn, turn and collapses in death. Some migratory
routes have been blocked by agriculturalists. Poaching is intense in
protected areas like Ikoma Open Area and Mara Group Ranches. The
high predation and poaching have little impact on population of the
gnus. The benefits of migration far outweigh the dangers. The
migration attracts large number of visitors from a diversity of
countries. They help to fertilize the plains.
Migration has also influenced the behaviour of other animals
including the human being who have to follow the migration from one
park to another.
is mostly influenced by rainfall patterns. Thus no one can predict
with precision where the migrating herds will be at a definite time.
However just as in whether, a prolonged study migrating cycles has
produced some good guess as regards general movements of migrating
herds and some definite facts.
wildebeest migration follows a clockwise direction dictated by
the rain patterns in the Mara/Serengeti ecosystem. The
Migration has been going on for as long as our ancestors can
remember and where it started is debatable. If we take the
calving period as the beginning of migration then we can say that
migration starts in plains of
Eastern Serengeti around March.
December to April 2012
The herds spread out over
wide area covering Plains of Eastern Serengeti stretching all the
way to the Northern and Western plains of Ngorongoro conservation
area; and Masawa Game Sanctuary. January marks the beginning of
calving season. Calving continues from January to March with
bulk of the calves born in mid February. During this period the
plains of Seronera all the way to Western Ngorongoro are teaming
with vast herds of wildebeest (about 1.7M) with their calves.
It is the feasting time of predators as they take advantage of the
weak and venerable foals. The wildebeest are always on
the move and not even calving will disturb this rhythm. Upon
delivery, within minutes, they young calf can stand and walk with
the herd. In a few days, it can outrun any predator. The
best migration lodges to stay at this time are Kusini Camp and Ndutu
Wildebeest herds covering the whole plain like a carpet. From
the sky, it looks like a ceaseless flow of a mighty river.
May To July 2012
May marks the end of long
rains in Eastern
Serengeti and Northern Ngorongoro. Meanwhile the calves
have matured and it is migration time. The scattered herds
gather into long columns of up to 20 miles and the march westwards
begins. The migrating herds cross central Serengeti into
the Ngurumet (popularly called the western corridor), cross the
Ngurumet river into western and northern plains of Serengeti.
By the end of June, the rains in western and northern Serengeti have
subsided. At this time, heavy rain is falling in the Mau hills
and the crocodile infested Mara river is heavily flooded. But
nothing will stand between the wildebeest and the abundant succulent
grass readily available in western Masai
Mara, not the floods nor the crocodiles. The wildebeest
must cross of else risk starvation. With lots of vocalization
wildebeest gather in herds along the banks of the Mara river.
Unmoved by the noise the crocodile patiently waits and guards their
territories against the intruding wildebeest. Any wildebeest
venturing into the river is met with immediate hostility and
retreats but cannot go far due to the ever increasing multitudes of
the wildebeest. As time goes, the impatience grows and the
wildebeest in front can no longer withstand the push from behind.
There is no turning back. They have to take a plunge. As if to
confuse the crocodiles, they jump into the river in mobs. The
lucky ones wade across into the land of plenty. The unlucky
ones drown, others are killed or maimed by the crocodiles . By
the end of the cross, the banks of mara river are lined with
carcasses of the dead. It is survival of the fittest and those
maimed will not survive the predators of
Masai mara. Plenty of
Wildebeest Migration Safaris are available for those who wish to
wildebeest migration in Masai Mara Serengeti in 2013.
Migration safaris can be short like the
3 nights Nairobi, Nakuru Masai Mara or long like the
8 days Masai Mara migration safari 2012 . An extremely good
combination is the
days Nairobi / Mt Kenya/ Samburu / Sweet Waters / Nakuru Masai Mara
11 days Masai Mara Serengeti migration safari includes visits to
Ngorongoro, Lake Manyara, and Amboseli . This is an
extremely good option for those that wish to familiarize with
with migration route from Masai to Serengeti and Ngorongoro.
August and September 2012
The arrival in Masai Mara
coincides with the mating season. The bulls establish
temporally territories and mate with the females crossing into them.
The herds settle in Masai Mara
moving from the Western side to the Eastern boundaries. By
October the succulent grass in Mara is finished and the migrating
herds heads for Serengeti where curving will take place and the
entire cycle starts all over again. i
Landcruiser with certified guide
Masai Mara /
Serengeti Self Drive: Self drive safaris are available
Masai Mara and Serengeti National
Parks. However we always recommend the pictured safari land
cruiser with certified driver guides.
Our all inclusive
11 Days seventh wonder of the world Maasai Mara Serengeti Migration
safari give you the best opportunity to follow the
migrating herds from Masai Mara into Serengeti and witness this
great spectacle. Book this safari between now and Aug 2012 at
USD 4050 PP Sharing for two. This is an all inclusive
private safari. See
Masai Mara Lake Nakuru Lake Naivasha 4 Days Safari
Game lodges also
called safari lodges, tented camps, private houses and campsites
are all found in Mara Game Reserve.
camps and safari lodges in Masai
Mara fall under three categories- luxury, mid range and
budget. While only 12 properties are inside the
Mara reserve others are in the
neighboring group ranches. Does it matter where you
spend the night while in Mara? Yes. If you are interested
night game drives and lots of local culture then you can stay in
the group ranches. Group ranches are privately run by the
local people. However unplanned development coupled with large
number of visitors threatens the very survival of the reserve.
Large numbers of visitors are associated with high degree of
pollution in terms of noise, dust and changed animal behavior
which can lead to extinction of venerable species like the
cheetah which hunts only during the day.
Maasai Mara has the largest number of lodges and tented camps in any
park of East Africa.
AS of now Masai Mara has 108
properties with a abed capacity of 4000.
Our aim is to feature as many properties as we can focusing on
their location (Inside or outside the reserve), prices and
facilities. Masai Mara National Reserve( National Park) is divided
into three sectors- Mara Triangle, Musiara and Sekanani. The
fourth and unofficial sector comprises of the community, group and
private ranches surrounding the park- Koyaki Group Ranch, Lemek
Group Ranch, Siana Group Ranch, Olderikesi Conservancy and many more
are coming up. Accommodation properties-lodges, tented camps,
hotels or mobile campsites are mushrooming in these conservancies at
an alarming rate, endangering the very existence of the ecosystem.
Lodges in Maasai (Masai) Mara
in Masai Mara include-
Mara Olkuruk Lodge, Mara
Sopa Lodge-Sopa Elewana Lodges,
Mara Simba Lodge, Base Camp
Mpata Safari Club.
Tented Camps in Maasai (Masai) Mara
highest degree of comfort. These include,
Camp - Sarova Hotels,
Kichwa Tembo Tented
Explorer - Heritage Hotels,
Fig Tree Camp-
Olonana Tented Camp-Sanctuary Lodges & Hotels,
-Heritage group of Hotels,
Mara Safari Club-
-Governor's Hotels & Lodges,
- Heritage Hotels and Oseur Tented Camp.