From Masai Mara, i am confirming that the wildebeests have now arrived in the Mara! The stage is now set for the world’s most fascinating wildlife spectacle. This is the earliest arrival in recent years. The earliest, to my knowledge over the past 20yrs was at the end of June and never in May. All Though this is started about 2 weeks ago, it has progressed so fast i a period that normally would have taken up to 3 weeks. However, due to the failure of the long rains in the region in April-May, this comes as no surprise, since there was not enough water to keep the wildebeests down in Serengeti. I have seen over the years when the wildebeests arrives early, they often go back again into Serengeti after a while, then come back again later, around September-October, before going back completely. I am also seeing the same is likely to happen this year. we have started getting some rain and if this goes on, the wildebeest will go back then return later.
The movement of the wildebeests in the Mara over the past week progressed much faster than anticipated. With plenty of long grass all over the central Mara plains, I thought the animals will move slowly north and westwards from their entry point at Sand River as they usually do. However, in a departure from their normal routing over the years, the herds moved fast with some heading north across Meta plains and and are now on Burrungat plains from where they are expected to start crossing the Talek river as they head towards Topi plains and Musiara Marsh. The rest of the herds proceeded west towards lookout hill, up to the Mara river where they are now starting to cross over in a couple of places onto the Mara triangle. though these were not big herd. We now have wildebeests lining the east side of the Mara river below Look out hill up to the Talek-Mara junction. The rest of the herds are spread out on the plains behind this location.
The northern migration (Loita herds) is now spread across from Musiara gate down to Ntiakitiak River and Rhino ridge area. there are also thousands of wildebeests on Oalre-Orok and Naboisho conservancies. Over the past week they were streaming in small numbers towards paradise plains with some crossing over to the west onto Mara triangle. Many animals have been crossing at the main Paradise crossing point and at pump house point (Mt. China) on the Mara river just below Serena.
with the change in the land use on the Loita plains, we now see more wildebeests even calving on the neighbouring conservancies. this is why we are seeing a higher concentration of the Loita migrants than before.
The Mara predators in the areas where the herds are concentrated have suddenly woken up to the season of plenty again. The marsh pride lions have now established themselves along Bila Shaka stream where the wildebeest are coming for a drink. Since the entry of the migrating herds into the area, these lions have always had something to eat. To the south we have also been witnessing hunting lion.
Wildebeests stampede during the annual migration. This was one of only 2 photos i took at this spot before moving off
Wildebeests stampede near the river crossing
Herds grazing peacefully on the plains
A map showing current locations of the herds in the Mara